Water Industry News

Agawam OKs water rate hike

June 06, 2006

AGAWAM - Agawam residents got hit twice financially last night on future water bills, as the City Council voted unanimously to boost both the city's water rate and water connection and services charges.

Both increases were approved with 9-0 votes, with Councilors George Bitzas and Gina M. Letellier absent.

The water rate was increased from $1.02 to $1.36 per 100 cubic feet, a 33 percent increase. It marks the first time the city's water rate has increased since 1991 and will help stabilize the city's water fund so it can bond for a $12 million, 13-mile water main improvement in the future, city officials said.

"It's never popular to have to make a decision to raise rates, but in this case I applaud them (Department of Public Works officials) for their forward thinking," said Councilor Cecilia P. Calabrese, chairwoman of the Council finance committee.

John P. Stone, DPW superintendent, told the council the rate increase will result in the annual water bill increasing from $151 to $205 per year, assuming a household uses 12,000 cubic feet annually.

Stone said the increases were necessary in part because the city was running a $400,000 deficit with the old rate, a figure which could potentially hurt when the city looks to bond for a project that will upgrade and increase the size of water mains across the city.

The increases to the water connection service rate will be implemented on a sliding scale depending upon the size of the water meters needed in a household. For example, the fee for a one-inch water meter will jump from $202 to $375, an 86 percent increase.

Stone said the increase is necessary due to the skyrocketing costs of material like copper, which has increased from 98 cents to $3.40 for a foot of three-quarter inch pipe.

The connection fee, which affects only homes that do not currently have water service, last increased in 2002. At that time, it was said that it would not increase for three years, Stone said.


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