Easthampton workshop to seek input on expected water, sewer hikes

  • Easthampton’s water facility on Hendrick Street are pictured in this 2018 photo. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2022 5:06:36 PM
Modified: 11/29/2022 5:06:21 PM

EASTHAMPTON — With material prices and energy costs on the upswing compounded by decaying infrastructure, Department of Public Works Director Greg Nuttelman says the cost to operate the city’s sewer, water and wastewater treatment plant are also on the rise.

As such, the Board of Public Works is hosting a workshop Wednesday to gather public input on proposed changes to the city’s water and sewer utility rates.

The information session, which will be held at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 50 Payson Ave., includes a discussion on the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, said Nuttelman.

“We want the public to be involved in the discussion before the rates are finalized,” he said.

The board voted in June 2020 to raise water and sewer bills for the average city resident by 8%. Using 1,800 cubic feet per year as an approximate, the average Easthampton customer saw a $12.05 increase per quarterly bill.

Nuttelman said that the city has continually kept rates low for some time, but will need to increase the city’s rates out of necessity.

Union Street, for example, is on the verge of a complete rebuild. The majority of the more than $5 million project is being funded by the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Improvement Program. However, the city needs to pay to replace water and sewer utilities along the street, which the DOT program does not cover. According to Nuttelman, the cost for that project is a little over $1 million.

“Grant funding will pay for drainage and stormwater work, but there’s not an abundance of grant program opportunities for water and sewer replacement,” he said.

The aging infrastructure at Union Street is more than a century old, and Nuttelman says that there’s 100-year-old infrastructure all over Easthampton.

The city also has 18 municipal wastewater pump stations, 14 of which are nearly 50 years old.

“There’s a lot of obsolete equipment — while a lot of it may work right now, getting pieces to make repairs becomes a bigger challenge when it stops working because replacements for that piece of equipment aren’t made anymore,” he said. “There are no changes set in stone, but it’s important that people know we will need to make some investments to our city utilities.”

For questions, comments, or concerns contact the Department of Public Works at 413-529-1400 or publicworks@easthamptonma.gov.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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