Friday, March 25, 2005

Topic: Southern Berkshire County.

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Blogger pfennell said...

No real plan down here

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 4:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

Housatonic Water Works
"Water rate hike fuels furor"
By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Saturday, January 05, 2008

GREAT BARRINGTON — Housatonic Water Works announced yesterday that it has been granted a 30.74 percent rate increase for its 800 users in Housatonic and Stockbridge.

What this means, according to company treasurer James J. Mercer, is that customers using less than 2,500 gallons of water per month will see their bills rise from $26.25 per month to $34.32 per month, a jump of $8.07.

The settlement is scheduled to take effect Jan. 28, Mercer said.

"The process was arduous but equitable," he said.

Mercer had applied for a 35 percent increase in March 2007 to cover increased operating costs. According to his application, the added revenue will cover the cost of transmission line replacements, water quality monitoring equipment, and security gates and fencing.

Mercer worked with the state Department of Public Utilities' Settlement Intervention staff to arrive at the final number. According to the DPU's online filings, Mercer submitted to four rounds of questions from the settlement staff and intervenors.

The DPU initially had postponed the proposed increase from Oct. 1 to facilitate the negotiation process.

A representative for the DPU's settlement intervention staff could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Several residents of Housatonic who were at a public hearing on the rate increase in May were less than thrilled when hearing the news yesterday.

"Thirty percent? Oh, come on," said longtime resident Alice Bubriski. "To say that I am extremely unhappy is a vast understatement. How can someone who is retired expect to keep up with all these increases? This is ridiculous."

"It's surreal," said Meri Avratin, another customer. "But I felt that there was really not much we could do about it. It seemed like a done deal."

Both Avratin and Bubriski added that many Housatonic residents are upset that Housatonic water of late has smelled and tasted bad.

Mercer said yesterday that the odor is the result of repairs that were done to four water main breaks after Thanksgiving. The breaks required the water to be shut off to repair the pipes, he said.

When the water was turned back on, there was some roily water, he said. To counter that, the water in the pipes was treated with chlorine.

"Right now, we are trying to balance the complaints of water that tastes too organic with complaints that the water tastes like chlorine," he said.

The company sought a 20 percent increase in 2002, but a similar negotiation process dropped that increase to 14 percent.

Saturday, January 05, 2008 4:34:00 PM  

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