City Services Commission Votes to Raise Water and Sewer Rates: 9-percent Increase Took Effect July 15, 2014

Everett residents will be paying more for water and sewer in the coming year, following a unanimous vote of the City Services Commission, which voted to increase the rates for the first time in two years.

According to the Commission, the rate increase was needed because of increases in the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) assessment to the city and infrastructure improvements that are being undertaken by the city to improve and  protect the water and sewer system.

MWRA annually assesses the city based on its water and sewer usage, with assessments usually increasing by 2 to 5 percent per year. The city chose not to increase water and sewer rates last year, in an attempt to relieve the pressure on rate payers in the year after the city had established the water and sewer enterprise accounts.

However, the additional assessment by MWRA this year, coupled with several project to improve the system, including a new smart water meter program, made it impossible to maintain rates again this year.

According to a study that was conducted for the Commission, the city’s water and sewer rate payers will still be paying one of the lowest water and sewer rates in the region. The new average water and sewer bill based on the rate and an estimated usage, will be about $931 per household. Ratepayers in Chelsea, Malden and Revere pay on average $1,455, $1,254 and $1,832 respectively.

With the establishment of the water and sewer enterprise accounts in FY 2013, the water and sewer system must now be self-sufficient, meaning that they must take in what they spend. When the assessment goes up or major infrastructure projects are needed, the Commission must adjust rates to meet the demand.

Prior to the establishment of the enterprise accounts, the city council was able to maintain lower rates by using funding from the city’s general fund.

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