News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 24, 2018
Water rates rise in Stonington

by Rich Hewitt

Maine’s Public Utilities Commission has approved a rate increase for the Stonington Water Company and those rates are now in effect.

The PUC approved the rate increase in April, but they went into effect on May 1, after the second billing quarter already had begun. Because of that, the second quarter bills for year-round customers will be prorated, according to Annaleis Hafford, the engineer with Olver Associates who manages the water company. First quarter bills were billed at the old rate, the second quarter bills will be figured with one month (April) at the old rate and the next two months of the quarter, May and June, billed at the new rate. Billing for the rest of the year will be done at the new rate.

Under the new rates, the water company has implemented new turn-on/turn-off fees, which increased from $50 to $100. Because the approval came mid-cycle, turn-ons done in April were done at the old rate; those done beginning May 1 were charged the new rate. Likewise, after much discussion with the PUC, Hafford said the rates for seasonal customers will be prorated as well.

The water company has hired Bill Shepard as its new superintendent. Shepard, who lives in Stonington and serves as a lieutenant on the town’s volunteer fire department, began work on May 7. He replaces Benjamin Pitts, who accepted a position with the Island Employees Cooperative. Shepard told selectmen that, although the water company job was challenging and very different than driving a truck, he felt confident that he could handle the work with the support of Olver.

Hafford said she has submitted plans to the state for the Phase II pump house improvement project. That project includes updating the uranium filter system, installation of a new generator for the 110 well and improvements to the 205 well including redrilling the well to its original depth. She said she expects to open bids for the project on June 15.

The water company also has begun pumping water from a new well. The utility brought the 102 well on line last week and on Sunday, it pumped 7,000 gallons.

“That’s good,” Hafford said, adding that at this time of year, there was plenty of water in the ground. “I’ll be happy if it pumps that much in June.”