Wareham water rates to increase more than 50 percent

By Matthew Bernat | Feb 22, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Board of Water Commissioners member Rick England reviews rate information on Thursday.

The Wareham Fire District has approved a water rate increase, a move that Water Department Superintendent Andrew Reid said is necessary to operate a new treatment plant and keep up with inflation.

The rate change, which takes effect July 1, will increase a user’s water bill by 52 percent. The rate was approved Thursday night by the Board of Water Commissioners. Currently, users pay $.0051 per gallon. Under the new rate, users will pay $.0078 per gallon.

According to officials, the current bill for someone using 37,400 gallons of water in a six-month period is $193. That’s close to the amount of water an average household uses, said Reid. With the increase, that number will be $293.70. The district bills users twice a year.

Reid said that rate increase will bring what Wareham users pay closer to the average state water bill, which is $297 bi-annually.

“The district understands this change will be a burden and it has spent a lot of time developing a rate that will be reasonable,” said Reid.

The increase is necessary for a few reasons, he said. Among them is the need to fund an estimated $300,000 in operating costs for a yet-to-be-built water treatment plant.

Approved by voters at the district meeting last year, the $12.5 million water treatment plant will lower amounts of manganese and iron in the drinking water supply. Officials said the district was under pressure from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to lower the manganese levels on its own or face a compliance order from the state.

The operating cost includes paying for chemicals, sludge removal, electricity and more, said Reid. He stressed that the $300,000 was a rough estimate because the plant is yet to be constructed. Reid said the figure could be much lower once the plant comes on line.

Regarding the 52 percent increase, Reid said the average annual bill for users still falls below state and federal guidelines for affordability.

Reid said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends an annual water bill be 2 percent of median household income. For Wareham, which has a median household income of $59,000 (according to 2010 U.S. Census data), the bill should be $1,180 or less.

Reid noted the state recommends an annual bill be between 1.25 and 1.5 percent of median household income, equaling $737 to $885 annually. When the new rates take effect, the annual water bill for an average user will be $587.40.

The Wareham Fire District supplies water and fire protection for much of Wareham. A separate Onset Fire District performs the same function in Onset. Separate from the Town of Wareham, the Fire District is overseen by an elected five-member Prudential Committee and three-member Board of Water Commissioners. The district sets the water rates and allocates funds for the Wareham Fire Department.




Comments (40)
Posted by: cranky pants | Feb 23, 2018 07:18

Awesome, can't wait. Couple this with the rest of the BS going on in town, and this is becoming quite the place to be. Can't wait to move.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Feb 23, 2018 07:28

This crime family needs to be disbanded

Posted by: felinesmom | Feb 23, 2018 08:20

Well there goes library certification and coa funding.  You will never get an operational override passed now.  Singles or couples in a one bedroom place on sewerage will now be paying $1200 a year for water and sewer. 

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 23, 2018 09:40

Mr. Reid, like our water bills, a lot of things about Wareham are below average.  That ain't no secret.  The low cost of living in a substandard town is one of the good things about living here.  Sorry if that sounds offensive to some, but all of you that work for a living and own a decent home in Wareham know exactly what I'm saying.  If not, lift up your house, drop it in any of the nearby geographically similar towns, and see what it costs to buy it and live there.


Cheap houses, low taxes, cheap water,  cheap sewer, and other lower costs of living are the positive tradeoffs for living in this beautiful town with dreadful demographics.  If it starts getting expensive to live here, what are we going to get in return?  Will the crime ridden motels, ramshackled trailers, boarded up houses, shuttered businesses, and places like The Woods of Brandy Hill cease to exist?


Posted by: OnsetJimmy | Feb 23, 2018 09:52

Felinesmom, your math is off.  297 bi-annually is $594 per/year.  Here at home in the metrowest area I pay $1300 per/year.  Water and sewer are not sexy things to consider but when you live near the bays and oceans it is a crucial component in managing the eco-system.  Also, check out property values of homes in towns without municipal sewerage.  I remember back in the 70's when we had to convert out little cottage to town sewer.  The cost was exorbitant but it was the best thing to happen to Wareham/Onset.

Posted by: bob | Feb 23, 2018 10:43

Gee,I hope that the water district give the  tax savings back to the ratepayers from the new tax  rates that just been given with the new tax code...Fat Chance In This Town...

Posted by: felinesmom | Feb 23, 2018 12:48

Onset Jimmy  I included the EDU rate for sewerage in my figures.  The most affluent of towns on the south shore either do not have sewerage or only on a very limited basis.

Posted by: baron1701@yahoo.com | Feb 23, 2018 14:46

I moved to Wareham to avoid these costs. Anyone know of the average cost for a drinking well? Im sure to save money over ten years. Better investment than solar.

Posted by: noseyrich | Feb 23, 2018 15:14

HOW THE "BLEEP" Does raising the rate by 50% help fight inflation?????   More commie dempcrap rhetoric, that's what I hear!

The very first sentence in this story is all anyone has to read...all the rest is Blarney, Frankly!

Posted by: noseyrich | Feb 23, 2018 15:21

Ennyone know how much water a single senior citizen would use in a year??? My land lord pays the water bill, but of course, I pay him every month. Therefore I never get a water bill so I have no idea how much I am using.

Posted by: Kress | Feb 23, 2018 15:59

Yet another reason for Onset Water/Fire to remain its own entity.

Posted by: Phredzzz | Feb 23, 2018 17:27

Just thinking how $1200 a year for Water and Sewer just about makes me vomit. Think about this for just one second and do a little simple math and you will vomit also. $1200 per year equates to $100 per month which works out to be $3.29 per day just to Poop, Shower, Wash your Clothes, and Dishes. I don't know about the rest of the readers, but I am on fixed income and most of my money is already gone before I ever see the check. If the Water Department and other Town employees finds a 50% increase acceptable, then I propose that ALL of those municipal employee's accept a Salary Freeze and survive on a Fixed-Income also. ZERO raises for Town employees needs to be a Bumper-Sticker on every Vehicle in Wareham.


Posted by: rhbinma | Feb 23, 2018 19:58

All these people are scared to go after all these public servant jobs. I say fire everyone of them and hire company's to take care of the things in town. Then you dont have all these big insurance bills and pensions. That will solve all the problems. And we will probably get better service.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 23, 2018 21:49


I'm against raising the water bill 50% so I'm with you for the most part.  But your analysis doesn't help the argument too much because $3.29 per day is pretty good if one thinks about it.  As you put it, "$3.29 per day to poop, shower, wash your clothes, wash dishes" etc is actually a bargain.  Think about the alternative.  On the sewer side alone, imagine collecting all the poop and waste water you generated each day in an open drum.  After a few days you have several drums of sewerage in your front yard.  Would you pay a mere $3.29 each to have someone come and take it away?  Yes you would.  That would be a bargain.  See what I mean?  A cup of Dunkin is $3.29.  People pay 3.29 per day on internet.  People pay $3.29 per day on cable TV.  People pay $3.29 per day on cell phone bill.


The $3.29 per day calculation is not helping the cause.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Feb 24, 2018 11:40

If you are upset about this year's rate increase, get ready for the rate increases that will follow on an annual basis over the next few years as the water treatment facility passes through a number of stages of development with each stage of completion requiring additional borrowing for the next stage.

Posted by: bob | Feb 24, 2018 12:40

ANDREA,you sure are right,and the Sewage treatment,going in for a 10,000,000 ,and that is just a start from them,and also the School dept.,and there new school....oh boy get ready tax payers....

Posted by: Phredzzz | Feb 24, 2018 17:26

WarehamBTS: Confused in the first word that comes to mind. You state that you are AGAINST "raising water Bills 50%" and then you go on to defend the costs of Town Services as being reasonable. You really cant have it both ways! I get your point, but lets think about the real world impact on us individuals who foot the bill. I believe that any time a Town department comes forward and basically demands that the public pay an increase of 50% is an INSULT and completely out of line with what anyone should expect to find acceptable. Also, as an afterthought and because I do not know the answer; isn't the public protected from these outrageous increases by one of the clauses in Proposition 2-1/2 ??


Posted by: Knocked for six | Feb 25, 2018 08:04

How many of us went to the meeting to vote it down?


Posted by: cranky pants | Feb 25, 2018 10:24

That's just the problem KFS.. Nobody ever shows up to keep things in line. People can vote for whatever they want when the meeting is stacked.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Feb 26, 2018 09:14

A vote on something that can so profoundly affect the townspeople should be held during general elections. With this group of  pirates taking what they want and ravaging a homeowners budget, it affects our will and ability to pay for increases in funding other things needed in town.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Feb 26, 2018 11:13

Please don't confuse water and sewerage. No joke. Is anybody else ready to seriously investigate dismantling the 19th century 2 water districts, 2 fire districts, and an entirely separate sewerage district each with it's own fiefdom of administrative morass?

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Feb 26, 2018 11:47

Tax rate for 2018. Town tax $11.28 per thousand. Wareham Fire District $2.35 per thousand Onset Fire District $2.76 per thousand. So we can run our entire town on eleven buck and we continue to get sacked by the fire districts. Enough!! Time to do away with the antiquated district system and move control to the town. We get a brand new fire station and our schools continue to suffer.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Feb 26, 2018 12:36

It is time to disband the districts. Is there anyway the Town can get a court order to stop the Onset fire station, water treatment plant and any votes to create golden parachutes for the crime family until Town takes it over and reevaluates the need and locations?  

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Feb 26, 2018 13:53

Sphere...you don't need a court order...what we need is a citizen revolution. We need two things. First, we need a citizen petition at the Onset and Wareham Fire District Annual meetings coming up this spring. Check with the District to see how many voters it takes to get on 'the ballot' at the District Meeting I forget. The petition will be to dissolve the District and petition the Town of Wareham to take over the operation pending approval at Wareham Town Meeting. Then, for Phase 2, we are going to petition Wareham Town Meeting (probably have to wait for the Fall one due to timing) to accept dissolution of the Districts and take over the operations, both raising the revenue within the existing tax structure and expending the funds to fulfill the service. All Prudential and Water Commissioners will be null and void, and while the Town will have to honor the legacy golden parachutes of former employees, we can immediately get rid of the 90-99% health insurance contract and get some immediate savings to the operation.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Feb 26, 2018 14:19


Posted by: Kress | Feb 26, 2018 23:12

I live in Onset, and I don't want Wareham's stinky water.  Nor do I want to pay the high cost of removing manganese and iron from Wareham's water.


Specifically to Spherebreaker, calling people who work for the water and fire districts, a "crime family" is libelous.  I suggest that you retract your statement, and think before you post next time.  Posters on this site talk about Wareham's "magnet".  Well it's no wonder, when some of the Town's own residents set a negative, rude, and hurtful tone.

Posted by: thkng60@yahoo.com | Feb 27, 2018 06:54

Also called them Pirates------HOW RUDE


Posted by: WWreader | Feb 27, 2018 08:34

If I hated Wareham as much as you all do, I'd move asap. Why be so miserable all the time?

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Feb 27, 2018 09:48

WWREADER: In response to your question, "Why be so miserable all the time?" I think there are several possibilities.

1) Sometimes when people proof read their comments, they may not notice that the tone of their comment might be interpreted by some as miserable. 2) Drafting a polite, to-the-point, critical comment might require more time online than some people can spare from a busy schedule. 3) Misery loves company. 4) Miserable comments tend to attract more responses than do positive comments, thus giving those who draft the miserable comments a feeling of importance. 5) Anonymous screen names allow people to say miserable things that they would not say if they thought readers were going to know their actual identity. 6) Some adults never outgrew middle school mentality.


Posted by: Phredzzz | Feb 27, 2018 14:17

Andrea Smith: Points well taken, but no one appointed you to the position of  PARENT-IN-CHIEF. Chastising people for what you consider out of line is the same guilty crime as your judgmental comment above about another individuals personal opinion. Maybe a little self-reflection would be appropriate before you fire off the next I'm-smart and you're-not comment to the Masses.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 27, 2018 16:33

Kress, you just proved a point.  You brought up the "magnet" term from out of nowhere just to pass judgement.  Yet I don't think that term was used at all in any of these comments about water.  I don't think that term has been used in a long time by anybody.  Looks like the last person that used it was YOU!  The point you've proven is that sometimes the ones easily offended by a term are disappointed when their wishes are granted.  It's boring when there's nobody to chastise for writing Magnet and other silly words.  Every person that reads and writes these comments knows EXACTLY what the term refers to.  I find it amusing how some get all offended.  Geeze Louise, look around!  Look at some of the winners' mug shots in this paper and tell me that we don't have an excess.  Its a joke, its funny to say that something must be attracting them.  Come on, if stupid criminals could fly, Wareham would be an airport!  Don't be so darn sensitive to the obvious!


Posted by: Kress | Feb 27, 2018 18:32

Wareham/Sea:  Here's your post from Jan. 23, 2018:
"Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jan 23, 2018 13:40

I'm bursting with a plethora of comments.  But everybody keeps telling me to be nice and not to comment on the appearance of our ridiculously stupid pathetic criminals!. . .Once again, the magnet is working hard. (emphasis added) Why?  Why here?  She's stealing her way across the country and ends up here."


Another poster used the term as recent as Feb. 14.


Amended comment:

Yes, I used the term magnet but I did not call our Town a magnet.  I suggest that if you and others believe that Wareham is a "magnet" for criminals, then why shouldn't we take some steps to change that perceived phenomenon.  One small step is to be civil to each other of this site.


People (in-town and out-of-town) read these ugly comments and think anything goes in Wareham where posters impugn the character and integrity of our Town's employees with immunity. I'm talking about your Spherebreaker's comments referring to water and fire personnel and Wareham personnel as being criminals.  I am offended by that.


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 27, 2018 18:48



I didn't call the people that work for the water and fire a libelous negative name.  Please go back and check.


On a lighter note, I'm not claiming that I'll never use the term "magnet" again. Yes, you found when I used it last a month ago.  Good job researching back.  That one was one of the better examples of when the moon lines up just right and amplifies the magnetic field, just like an astronomical tide.  That lady with the Medusa snakes all over her head was something that one just can't make up.  I heard from the Walmart employees just how entertaining that event was. It takes a special kind of stupid to get caught shoplifting and then run back into the store, yelling, and continuing to run around the store with a head full of squiggly snakes bouncing around.  It cracks me up just thinking about it.  I'm sure someone from the feelings flock will empathize and say "she's had a hard life", "you don't know her situation", bla bla bla.  If we can't get a chuckle out of these idiots, what can we do?  Maybe I'll donate to the stupid criminals from Mississippi fund.  Or better yet, I have a spare room.  I'll let her move in until she can get her stuff together.


Regarding anything that anyone posts on here.  It's a free blog in a nice little free newspaper.  Most of us enjoy it.  Nobody is judging the integrity of our town based on a few anonymous comments.


I've seen many commenters get chastised by other commenters.  I've been chastised and it appears that you are chastising me for something that I didn't even say.  Many many comments are sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek and some other commenters unfortunately take them way too seriously.  Whenever I read a chastise on here I picture a mean uptight looking 1950s librarian or teacher scolding a child for a harmless prank.  Like that scene in Christmas Story when the teacher had a drawer full of gag toys confiscated from kids.  Everybody just needs to chill!

Posted by: Kress | Feb 27, 2018 21:27

Spherebreaker: To whom were you referring in your post copied below?

"Posted by: Spherebreaker | Feb 26, 2018 12:36

It is time to disband the districts. Is there anyway the Town can get a court order to stop the Onset fire station, water treatment plant and any votes to create golden parachutes for the crime family (emphasis added) until Town takes it over and reevaluates the need and locations?"


Amended comment:

In essence, you called current employees members of "the crime family."  Crime family has a certain connotation to it.  And, I doubt anyone in Wareham's employ would appreciate that label.  Words are powerful, especially in this forum -- a newspaper.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Feb 27, 2018 22:08

Dang auto correct, meant to say big happy family

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 27, 2018 23:56


Huh, that's not my post.  It says who's post it is.  What you are implying is incorrect.

Posted by: Kress | Feb 28, 2018 17:20

Wareham/Sea.  I was wrong about who said what.  I apologize to you for mixing you up with Spherebreaker.  You did not call water/fire nor any Wareham employee names.  It was Spherebreaker who referred to "the crime family."   I will amend my posts.


I stand by my original comment to Spherebreaker and ask that he/she rethink what he/she posted.  I continue to believe that that statement is libelous and should be retracted with an apology.



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Feb 28, 2018 20:07

Apology accepted.  I'll continue to reserve my name calling to those that deserve dumbest criminal awards.


You know, you confused me with that because it appeared that you were suggesting that WBTS & Spherebreaker were the same person.  You made me feel a little schizophrenic for a moment...

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 02, 2018 00:30


Posted by: District Water Superintendent | Mar 02, 2018 18:12

First, the District would like to thank Matt for assembling the article. These types or articles are difficult to pull together in short amount of time as he has done.  I would like to highlight the District has spent a large amount of time on this subject and does not take it lightly.  We understand the panacea of emotions expressed on this topic.  I welcome anyone who has questions to feel free to stop in my office and discuss with me or any of the committee members.  My door is always open.

The current water bill for 5,000 cubic feet (cf) of water over six months of use, which is more than the typical user so that is conservative number, is approximately $193. The proposed water bill for this amount of water is $293.  The breakdown of the increase to $293 for this water usage is as follows:

At the last District meeting, the voters approved the warrant article for the proposed water purification plant (WPP).  We forecasted during that meeting that the cost would be $12 to $13/month associated for that article or $72 to $76 for six-month bill at 5,000 cf of usage.  We are proposing the WPP cost in a two-step rate increase, once this year, and once next year at ~$36 per six-month bill each year.

The Water Department has also performed a cost of service study which looked at the next three years of cost for running the water department as well looking at rehabilitating our current infrastructure.  Much of the vertical infrastructure (e.g. buildings, wells etc.) which was the focus of this study, is reaching the end of their useful life and will require updates to make them go for the next 20 or more years.  In addition, the Water Department must address betterment shortfalls that are associated tax liens and similar issues.  Inflation costs was only a small portion of this increase as referenced in the article above. The cost associated with this effort was $39.50 per six-month bill.

Lastly, the Board of Water Commissioners (BoWC’s) understand that receiving this increase in a six-month bill can be discouraging and difficult to budget.  As such the BoWC’s are proposing to automate the meter reads so that bills can be sent out more frequently or even monthly.  For example, the $293 six-month bill would be a $146.50 bill quarterly or $49 bill monthly.  The cost for this system is $24.50 per six-month bill for 5,000 cf of water usage.

The current meter reading system is fully manual. Each meter must be read manually twice a year by the staff and uploaded into the billing system. This means a staff must physically enter private property to obtain a reading.  The current standard in the state is to read meters either quarterly or monthly (~71% of the water departments in Massachusetts according to 2017 Tighe and Bond Survey).  The benefits of the automatic meter reading system are as follows:

1..) Provides a portal on the web for the individual consumer to monitor their water usage almost instantaneously.

2.) Allows alarms to be sent to customer for high water usage.  The current system can allow close to six months of water to be consumed before a leak or other event is reported to a consumer. Even at the current rates, these bills associated with leaks are substantial. The BoWC wishes to empower the customer on their water usage and this system would allow that benefit.

3.) Allows more frequent, smaller bills compared to larger 6-month billing.

4.) Lessens the frequency the water department is required to entry your property.

5.) Allows readings to automatically be uploaded into the billing software. Keeps staffing levels at the same level with more frequent billing, and has the potential to lessen staff with successful installation and operation.

Finally, as a general yard stick, understanding that each community needs are different based on the age of the system assets, one can look at water rates other systems are charging.  The most useful numbers tend to be the overall average rather than individual comparisons. I would encourage you to read through these documents.



In summary, feel free to stop by my office and ask any questions before district meeting.

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