To the Editor:
This letter was sent to the Edgartown Wastewater Commissioners in time for their March 20 meeting.
Moving to metered billing has been talked about since 1996. It is time to move beyond the talking stage and make it a reality. The commission is undoubtedly aware of the important reasons for his change, but I will expound upon them anyway.
1. Conservation. Fresh drinking water, as time moves on, is going to be realized as a more and more valuable resource, especially on an Island with a sole source aquifer. Billing for actual usage will encourage conservation, when people realize it’s costing them to leave the water running. As it stands now, a customer could run another thousand gallons a day in to the plant and it’s not going to affect his sewer bill.
2. Inequity. The inequity and nonsense of billing by the number of outlets to drain cannot be understated. A single person living in a house with the same number of outlets to drain as a family of four with a fraction of the usage pays the same. A minimum rate will obviously need to be established because of the large number of seasonal properties, along with the realistic rates for residential, commercial, and industrial users.
3. Pirated Lines. Whether we want to admit it or not, they exist, and over time increase in number. Without metered billing these become lost revenue for the town.
4. Verification of the number of outlets to drain does not exist. If you have seven or 17 — who is to know?
5. Metered septage for Edgartown residences should be a lower rate. We have a $20 million wastewater treatment plant, after interest on the loan is figured in. All Edgartown taxpayers pay for the plant, but not everyone can be tied in. Edgartown taxpayers who every three to five years need to pump their holding tank should get a reduced rate.
6. Metered septage for nonresidents should be higher. Their cost per gallon should be calculated based on the cost of hauling it off Island, which used to be the norm, minus a certain percentage. These higher nonresident charges would help us to affect our ever-increasing sludge disposal costs, which climb with septage dumping.
In closing, I would like to reinforce the fact that the Edgartown Wastewater Treatment Facility is a town-owned business, and like any other, needs to produce a profit. In this case, that means paying for itself. If commissioners or the town cannot run this facility so that it is not a burden to taxpayers, we should lease it to someone who can.