MERRIMAC — Water Department customers will likely be seeing another rate increase in their bills next January. The Board of Water Commissioners will discuss this proposed hike at a public hearing on Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the library. The hearing is required before the new rate can be implemented.
In August, Water Commissioners Louis Bibeau, Norman Denault and Fred Underwood unanimously approved the increase of an additional 10 cents per 100 gallons. The new cost for town water would become 68 cents per 100 gallons. According to Light and Water Department Manager Dan Folding, the average customer using 15,000 gallons of water per quarter would pay an extra $60 each year. The total annual water bill would rise to $408 per year.
The Water Commissioners were first presented with the idea of a water rate hike at their June board meeting. At that time, Folding suggested that a rate increase was needed in order to keep pace with the rising price of chemicals. In particular, potassium hydroxide, used to raise the pH of water at the Bear Hill Pumping Station and East Main Street plant, is expected to jump 212 percent from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2009 and will cost the Water Department an additional $37,682. Folding believes the rate increase is also necessary to keep up with the overall expenses of the Water Department.
This rate change would be the first since last October when rates rose by 5 cents. Prior to that, rates rose by 13 cents in January of 2003, according to Folding.