Pascoag Utility District (“PUD”), at a special Board of Utility Commissioners meeting in September, determined that we need to address the hardship that our water customers have faced this year, where many have experienced one or more instances of rusty water. Although we have been working hard to upgrade our water distribution infrastructure, we also understand how frustrating it has been to experience occasional rusty or discolored water. Since PUD still has many years of infrastructure improvements before completing upgrades to its system, especially in regards to the cast iron water mains, the Board has voted to take a two-pronged approach to recognize the hardship from occasional rusty water from this past year.
First, in an upcoming billing period, all customers will be awarded a one-time credit to acknowledge the extra water that has been used for flushing of the water mains and refilling the Rock Avenue tank after its damage this past winter. The credit will be approximately $25.00 per customer.
Second, to address the unique characteristics of the water distribution system, where some customers are affected more than others when a rusty water incident occurs, we are offering a rebate program for the installation of a whole-house filtration system. Those customers that install such a system will be able to prevent sporadic rusty or discolored water from entering their home plumbing system. PUD will rebate 50% of the installed cost of such a system, up to a $250 rebate. We have queried local plumbing firms, and determined that commercial grade filtration systems are estimated to cost between $250 and $500, installed. Customers who have a system installed pursuant to this rebate program will be reimbursed by PUD at 50% of the cost, up to a rebate of $250, upon showing an invoice for an installation at their service address. PUD has allocated a total of $5,000 per year to cover these installations, on a first come/first serve basis. We believe that those customers who experience rusty water most frequently will be some of the first ones to sign-up for this unique rebate program.
Finally, our long term plan is to continue to upgrade our water distribution system. We completely refurbished our water storage tanks in 2013, installed an electronic data and control system that helps us continually monitor system conditions, and have replaced many of the oldest valves and hydrants on our system. We are also expending significant time and effort to bring two new water supply sources into production, so that PUD may once again become independent from outside water costs. Our focus now turns to replacing or lining our old cast iron distribution mains. To that end, we will be asking our customers to vote on such expenditures at an upcoming annual or special voter meeting. Preliminary estimates for the first phase are about $2 million, so it will be a significant and expensive upgrade subject to voter approval per our bylaws and charter. Our overall goal is to continually improve our water distribution system, and we thank all our customers for their patience during sometimes frustrating operational conditions.
Mike Kirkwood General Manager
Al Palmisciano Chairman, Board of Utility Commissioners