To the editor:
The Times editorial of Dec. 6 declared “We’ve paid enough for clean water.” I would like to respond with some facts:
• Fact: while BCWA customers pay high water bills, many forget that $153 of the average annual water bill of $450 pays principal and interest on the 20-year bonds sold to purchase the private water system and install the cross-bay pipeline; a county-wide referendum decision supported by an 80-plus percent vote. If that amount is subtracted, BCWA customers would pay some of the lowest rates in the state.
• Fact: the press release issued last week on the likelihood of exceeding revised trihalomethane (THM) regulations in the coming months was an honest, open attempt to keep the public informed. There was not a violation of the THM regulation. We take 8 samples per quarter. The previous regulation required the average of all the samples over 4 quarters to be below 80 parts per billion. The explanation noted the new EPA rule change now does not allow a single sample location (averaged over 4 quarters) to exceed 80 parts per billion. In the first two sampling quarters, two samples, taken under the worst conditions, exceeded 80 parts per billion.
• Fact: BCWA board has a majority of new directors and a new Executive Director. Together they have examined the operations, cut costs, and generated a strategic plan that incorporates both capital and revenue plans.
• Fact: the capital plan includes projects to optimize the operation of the distribution system and improve water quality. A number of these projects would help to reduce the THMs in the system.
• Fact: recent articles and news reports detail the entire nation’s aging water and sewer infrastructure and the ever increasing need of rehabilitation. New England is the oldest area with the oldest installations, and is in the most dire condition. n Fact: most major RI water system rates have risen and/or are fast rising to exceed those of BCWA as they seek to rehabilitate aging systems or construct new water treatment plants.
• Fact: as a public stand-alone authority, the only BCWA in-house funds are the minimum required by our bondholders to assure repayment, and sufficient amounts to fund 60 days of operations (not 90 as recommended). Over the years, we have consistently tried to maintain water rate increases at the very minimum required to operate and update the system and meet regulatory requirements.
• Fact: there will be water rate increases, but the amounts will be only at revenues necessary to finance the operations and system improvements supported by the board of directors. A water rate public hearing will be scheduled for Dec. 20. I welcome you to attend to learn more about what BWCA is doing to control costs and prepare our aging water system for the needs of the future.
Mr. Klepper is BCWA board of directors chairman.