August Bills to Show 4 Percent Sewer Rate Hike

Wastewater ratepayers will see a 4.1 percent increase beginning Friday. Water rates will remain the same.

Haverhill city councilors Tuesday approved a sewer rate of $4.29 per hundred cubic feet, up from $4.12. Deputy Public Works Director Robert E. Ward said the increase mostly is needed to comply with federal mandates for sewer capacity and a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Regulations, combined sewer overflow, storm water, EPA – all those types of things we’ve been talking about. There’s a part of it that is odor control we’re doing at the treatment plant. But the primary driver is debt service for loan orders that have been appropriated to fund regulations coming down from EPA,” Ward said.

The wastewater department’s operating budget is $9.6 million.

Water rates will remain at $2.78 per hundred cubic feet to meet a nearly $8 million budget.

The next quarterly water/wastewater bills, to be issued Aug. 1, will include an explanation to ratepayers on the unfunded federal mandates, including a consent decree the city entered last winter with EPA and the Department of Justice, according to Ward.

Under a negotiated consent decree, subject to Department of Justice supervision, the city was ordered by the EPA to produce new, long term plans to maintain and control its wastewater collection system, according to the city’s environmental attorney Michael Leon.

“When the city did so five years ago EPA rejected that control plan as not being sufficient to minimize these flows to the greatest degree possible. And that resulted in their decision to proceed with negotiating a judicially enforceable consent decree under the Clean Water Act,” Leon said.

Among the new EPA conditions, also placed on other municipal wastewater systems along the Merrimack River, the city must monitor its compliance of an operations permit issued every five years by the EPA and “locate and eliminate any illegal connections” stemming from development. He added the negotiated consent decree does take into account “a degree of understanding and respect for the specific conditions the city is facing.”

One thought on “August Bills to Show 4 Percent Sewer Rate Hike

  1. Those good ole unfunded mandates. Keep voting for the same beaurocrats and those mandates will keep coming. These water rates will keep going up as the cost of the project will keep rising. This is omething that should have been settled a long time ago. But, our procrastinator in chief, decided to let it sit and wait until the deadline. Same old same old. Just like the Hunking school and all the other projects around the city.