Water Bills Send Shock waves Through Weston

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That is approximately $8 million of water right there

Residents opening their water bills in the last couple of days may have been in for a bit of a shock. Water bills on a dollar value are up across the board, mostly because of a new water usage rate. A couple of changes during the past year also make the bill hard to compare to last year’s usage–including a special “supplemental bill” which has been applied because new rates were not applied on the effective date of October 1, 2020.

After a year of teaching pandemic math at home (don’t ask), the Owl is fully ready to wade into the world of numbers, with the full assurance that she will be corrected by multiple finance guys who despise us marketing folks. Bring it. Here we go–first a look at new water rates versus old water rates:

New water rates since October 1, 2020 are:

Tier 1 (0-5,000 cu ft): $2.20

Tier 2 (5,000-15,000 cu ft): $6.60

Tier 3 (over 15,000 cu ft): $13.20

These rates are for semi-annual usage, which by all accounts should be 6 months. I’ll get back to that.

Prior year rates were as follows:

Tier 1 (0-5,000 cu ft): $2.00

Tier 2 (5,000-15,000 cu ft): $6.00

Tier 3 (over 15,000 cu ft): $12.00

And herein lies the problem, dear Water Department. On an eight-month bill, some residents are hitting Tier 3 for the last “gallon”. Who feels mathy?

Let’s say your usage is 17,200 for the dates of 4/09/2020 to 12/22/2020 (8 months). You will be paying $1,060 for that joy (the Owl knows this because this may or may not be her bill). How that is calculated:

First 5000 cu feet is Tier 1: $2.20*50 (per 100 cu feet) = $110

Next 10000 cu feet is Tier 2: $6.60*100 = $660

And the last 2200 is Tier 3: $13.20*22= $290

This adds to $1,060 (you know, the Owl went to business school but it was in marketing so this is all a big reach. I’m exhausted).

But here’s the problem: if you were to look at the usage over six months rather than eight, the Owl would not have reached Tier 3, and in fact, would be almost exactly at her usage from 2019 (a six-month period). What gives, Weston? I wish to know why the Owl … or ahem…whoever this bill belongs to…is being penalized for a late meter reading. This is not the way to win friends and influence people, Weston. Bad ‘cats.

Fortunately, other residents have noticed this discrepancy as well and they are real math-y people and have contacted the office of the treasury at town headquarters (sounds better than Hall). The Owl looks for an immediate resolution from the Water Department. Or not. At the end of the day, the Owl is relieved that the pandemic inflatable pool (illegal according to zoning) and pandemic bathroom use by two boys home from school were not the major culprits.

In other excitement, the water bill came with TWO invoices rather than just one. The second bill, which was much much “cuter” in terms of large numbers of zeros, was sent to adjust for the new rates not being applied to the October 23, 2020 bill. This will take the Owl considerably more brain power to work out especially because the letter is a little crazy (sorry but it is).

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Bottom line is that the payment is due on June 1, though any late interest will be waived if paid by 6/15/2021. That seems reasonable as the bill was delivered May 12.

For more information on how water rates are determined, please see https://www.westonma.gov/313/Water-Schedule-and-Reports. For more information on how much water Weston sucks down with its pretty green lawns, see a past Owl about the water barrel program. Get four.


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