Letter to Editor: Large commercial water users subsidized by Shrewsbury residents

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To the Editor:

The September 18th edition of the Community Advocate had an article on rising water rates in Shrewsbury. The article contained errors and misleading statements. For example, the last water rate increase was in 2012, not 2008. Also, it is incorrect to say that the town’s rate is low compared to its neighbors: Shrewsbury has several rates depending on category and consumption levels, and some of them are substantially higher than neighboring towns, some of which have just one rate.

But the biggest problem with the article was that it ignored the fact that the largest commercial users will continue to pay much lower rates for their water than many residential users. On August 19th I sent a letter to the selectmen on this issue, but they ignored it. (A copy of this letter is at shrewsburysrt.com.) Under the new approved rates, commercial users will pay no more than $4.30/Thousand no matter how much water they consume, compared to residential users who will pay $14.00/Thousand starting at only 60,000 gallons, more than 3 times the commercial rate. In other words, commercial users who consume over a Million gallons per quarter will pay no more than $4.30/Thousand, but residential users will pay $14.00/Thousand above only 60,000 gallons. And this is fair?

The major reason for increasing rates at higher consumption levels is to encourage conservation, but town officials refuse to be serious about encouraging water conservation among the largest commercial users.

Why should average residential water consumers care? Because NO increases in any residential water rates would have been necessary if commercial rates over 50,000 gallons had been increased to about $8.00/Thousand, which is still quite low compared to the highest residential rate of $14.00/Thousand. This would have encouraged conservation among the largest water users and resulted in a more equitable rate structure. But evidently, town officials are not all that interested in water conservation, and not at all interested in fairness.

John Lukach
Shrewsbury