Published in the July 6, 2016 edition
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — At last week’s public hearing on the water and sewer rates, the Board of Selectmen approved the rates recommended by the Advisory Board of Public Works of $6.35 per 100 cubic feet of water used and a sewer rate of $10.70 per 100 c.f.
Only one resident came to speak at the hearing, but Rosemarie Sorota of 29 Andrews Rd. was not there to specifically address the rates. She wanted to talk about the issue of second water meters.
At the recommendation of the Advisory Board of Public Works, the DPW currently has a ban on second water meters in effect until 2019.
The town uses water consumption as a way to determine the amount of sewer outflow from each residence or business. The argument for second water meters holds that consumers should not be charged on their sewer bills for water being used for irrigating lawns, watering gardens or other uses where the water does not enter the sanitary sewer system. Proponents say that a second water meter should be allowed in order to measure those uses separately.
DPW Director Richard Stinson noted that the biggest portion of the town’s sewer budget is the charge that the MWRA assesses the town for sewerage. That sewer assessment is based on five different factors, he said, only one of which is the amount of flow.
He noted that there are meters measuring the amount of sewerage flowing out of the town as a whole, but each individual house is not metered for sewer outflow. The town uses water consumption at each home as a way to establish the sewer usage.
Stinson said that second water meter would not accurately show a user’s true cost because there are extraneous flows that enter the sewer system from a user’s location. They include cracked service lines that take in groundwater, some of which comes from irrigation systems. Some homeowners have basement sump pumps illegally connected to the sewer system. Another factor is any liquid other than town water disposed of down the sink.
Stinson said that the town’s average daily water consumption is 1.85 million gallons, while the average daily sewer flow is 3.74 million gallons.
He noted that allowing second water meters would do nothing to change the total sewer burden to the town.
“The way we establish the sewer rate is to provide for the budget,” Stinson said. “The budget for the Sewer Division is going to be the same. We need to raise that amount no matter what.”
If the amount of sewer consumption billed were to go down as a result of second water meters, Stinson explained, the DPW would need to raise the sewer rate in order to meet the Sewer Division budget.
Second water meters would also require an initial up-front capital cost of $654,000 and about $64,000 in annual operating costs, Stinson said.
Sorota noted that the amount of flow leaving the town was almost double the water consumption. She wanted to know what was being done about the amount of groundwater entering the sewer system through cracks and breaks.
Stinson said that the town spends a substantial amount of money each year on sewer system. Any time a street is repaved, he said, the DPW checks for cracks and breaks in the sewer mains.
“It’s the hardest thing to find,” he said, “and it’s very costly to fix.” He added that cracked sewer pipes on private property are likely responsible for more groundwater entering the sewer system than pipes on town property.
In other business last week the Board of Selectmen:
• Approved the renaming of the Wakefield Memorial High School Cafeteria as the “Dennis M. Leary Student Center,” in honor of the retired WMHS Assistant Principal.
• Approved the date of Festival Italia for Aug. 20, 2016 along with the closing of Main and Albion streets to vehicular traffic in the downtown area on that date and a 10-day liquor license for the purchase of beer and wine.
• Scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 8 at 7:40 p.m. on a request for an alcoholic beverage license to “The Porch” at 41 Tuttle St.
• Appointed Deborah Atkocius of 9 Spruce St. as a teller in Precinct 7.
• Appointed Maureen Howlett of 50 Forrester Rd. to the Council on Aging Board.
• Appointed Kimberly Hackett from an alternate member to a full member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
• Approved a Common Victualler License for School House Pizza at 927 Main St.
• Approved a Class II (no display) used car dealer’s license for RSC Global Holdings, LLC at 35 Avon St.
• Approved a Class II auto dealer’s license for Acari Motors at 20 Del Carmine St.