Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

January 23, 2014

Towns at odds over water rates

Andover, North Reading disagree over new purchase deal

Andover and North Reading are locked in a fight over water rates and it doesn’t appear either side is ready to back down.

In fact, the dispute may be escalating as Andover is now mulling whether to increase the amount of money it charges to North Reading for water, which could affect their ratepayers.

Meanwhile, North Reading is threatening to defect from Andover altogether and hook up to the Massachusetts. Water Resources Authority, which would in turn have a huge financial impact on Andover’s water users.

At the heart of the matter is how much Andover is charging North Reading for its water.

Andover sells up to 1.5 million gallons of water daily to North Reading for about $3 per 100 cubic feet (748 gallons.). North Reading then turns around and sells it to its customers for nearly double that.

“We produce a product at $3, they sell it for $5.40,” Selectman Dan Kowalski said. “They are making a profit on our water.”

During a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Kowalski and others raised the idea of establishing a municipal water rate, specifically for North Reading.

“We should charge them so they aren’t making a profit,” Kowalski said.

In fact, during their Jan. 6 meeting, the selectmen, acting in their capacity as the Water and Sewer Commission, nearly voted to establish a higher rate for North Reading.

Instead, they asked Public Works Director Chris Cronin to come up with a recommendation for their next meeting on Monday, Jan. 27. Cronin said that recommendation could be based on the amount it would cost Andover ratepayers if North Reading hooked up to the MWRA.

“It would mean a 20 percent increase in everyone’s water rate,” Cronin said. “It would go from $3 per 100 cubic feet to $3.64.”

If the average ratepayer in Andover doles out about $350 a year for water, a 20 percent increase would mean their water bill could jump to around $420 a year.

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