Public asked to weigh in on water ordinance

  • Published in News

The Waitsfield Water Commission has been reviewing its water ordinance for nearly a year and the commission finally has something to show for it.

On Thursday, May 11, the water commission will be holding a public hearing to review the changes that have been made to the ordinance and residents who are connected to Waitsfield’s municipal water system are encouraged to attend.

Also at the May 11 meeting, the water commission is slated to discuss the amount of money the water commission will pay, if any, to repay the settlement with VTrans.

The changes made are mostly clarifications, according to the water commission’s chair, Darryl Forrest. Once the ordinance is reviewed on Thursday, it will then go to the select board for final approval, said Forrest.

Included is an item stating that properties that connect to the water system are not allowed to reconnect to existing or new wells. It also clarifies what an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) is and how they should be allocated.

One ERU for nonresidential users is calculated by taking the permitted wastewater capacity of a given property and dividing it by 245 gallons per day.

One of the more major changes to the ordinance involves the addition of a “disconnection section.” It states that any request to disconnect must be approved by the water commission, and if a user chooses to disconnect, they would only be exempt from the operation and maintenance fees.

The ordinance draft reads, “An owner of any water allocation who has requested and been granted removal from the water system, shall continue to be charged the current and any increases to operation and maintenance fees for as long as they maintain that reserve allocation. Any outstanding debt (bond) fee will continue to be charged until the debt (bond) is retired.”

Multiple other sections have also been added including ones for “steam thawing of frozen water service lines,” “construction phase,” “seasonal shutoffs and restorations,” “tax sales and liens on real property” and a “fire suppression system” section.

The connection fees have also been changed. When the water system was installed, the connecting fee was $1,000 per ERU and that figure increased incrementally, to $3,000 per ERU in 2015. However, the water commission has changed the fee to simply the “actual costs of meter, appurtenances and water operator time.” The commission does not know what those actual costs will be yet.

The commission has discussed changing the connection fee in the past to encourage more users to come onto the system, which would lower the cost to all water users.