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Manchester Water Works bills to go up 3 percent for 160,000

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 03. 2013 11:21PM

MANCHESTER - City residents can expect to see an increase of 65 cents a month, or just under $2 per quarter on average, on their next water bills, after the Manchester Board of Water Commissioners approved a 3 percent rate increase for customers at their January meeting.

It is the first time Manchester Water Works has raised rates since 2006.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said Sunday night that originally, a request was made for a 6 percent increase, but that the final motion that received approval by board members was 3 percent. In a prepared statement, Manchester Water Works Director Dave Paris said the increase is needed to pay for work to replace and renovate the city's system of water mains, portions of which date back to the 1870s.

"The calendar has finally caught up to us," said Paris. "In 2012 we replaced nearly two miles of 1880s-vintage water main and in the process rebuilt sections of Sagamore, Walnut and Chestnut streets. With 500 miles of water main, Water Works will be gradually replacing the oldest sections of pipes in years to come."

Gatsas said the increase will be reflected on the next bill customers receive.

The 3 percent increases will be applied to Water Works customers outside Manchester, as well as to all private and municipal fire protection charges. Manchester Water Works is responsible for providing drinking water and fire protection to the city, as well as portions of Auburn, Bedford, Derry, Goffstown, Hooksett and Londonderry, a total customer population of about 160,000.

"Our board recognized that to continue to provide reliable service, some increases have to be made," said Paris in a prepared statement. "Water Works has not raised rates since 2006, even with the significant increase in costs associated with power, supplies and operations of its newly upgraded water treatment plant. The ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) program, sales of property, refinancing debt service and cutting expenses such as reductions in staff have helped the department keep rates flat through these difficult economic times."

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