Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 3, 2014

Water/sewer rate hikes on tap

Depending on the outcome of a meeting Wednesday night, Andover water and sewer customers may have to pay more for what comes out of the tap as well as what goes down the drain.

Public Facilities Director Chris Cronin has proposed increasing water and sewer rates by 2.5 percent, which would add about $18 to the bill of the average water/sewer user in town.

Cronin said the increase is needed to take on important infrastructure challenges, including maintaining and replacing 100 miles of unlined water pipes and caring for a 30-year-old water plant.

“Everything is in good condition, but things need to be maintained,” he said, adding that even with the increase, Andover would still have one of the lowest water rates in the region.

“We are not the lowest, but we are well below average,” he said.

Selectman Dan Kowalski, a big proponent of water system maintenance, said there are a number of water system projects in town that need to be funded.

Town Meeting voters will be asked to approve a $100,000 water rate study, which Kowalski said is actually a study of the town’s water system infrastructure. That study will be used to map out future, short- and long-term water system projects that are needed.

In addition, in recent years, Town Meeting has approved upwards of $4 million in water projects, including hydrant replacement and flushing programs, which will continue.

He noted that part of the increase will be used to help fund post-employment benefits for retired water and sewer department employees.

Under Cronin’s proposal, water rates would go up $7.70 for the average user while sewer rates would go up $9.99. The number of people who get town water is much higher than the number who are on town sewer, which is serviced by the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District.

The selectmen, acting as water and sewer commissioners, were scheduled to meet to discuss the rate increase at a meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the third-floor conference room at the Town Offices.

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Look for more complete coverage on water and sewer rates in upcoming editions of The Eagle-Tribune.

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