Guilford water district eyes rate hike

Posted Jan. 25, 2011, at 11:34 p.m.

GUILFORD, Maine — The Guilford-Sangerville Water District plans to ask the Public Utilities Commission to approve a 20 percent overall increase for its nearly 600 customers effective April 1.

If the proposed rates are approved, all customers will see an increase of 23.25 percent, and public fire protection will see an increase of 13.28 percent, according to Lance Pulkkinen, district manager.

“It’s been five years since we’ve had our last one [increase]. Again, costs are going up and we basically have to keep up,” Pulkkinen said Tuesday.

A public hearing will be held on the proposed increase at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, in the district office. Anyone opposed to the rate increase may petition the PUC and the water district on or before March 11 to demand a PUC review. That petition, which may be obtained from the district, must be signed by 15 percent or more of the district’s customers.

Pulkkinen said the district could have asked for a 30 percent increase, but the board felt it could get by with the overall 20 percent increase.

“We’re doing what we feel we have to,” Pulkkinen said. He said the trustees initially had discussed filing for the increase last year to have it become effective Jan. 1, but decided to delay it a quarter. The trustees also had discussed filing smaller increases more frequently, but that too was dismissed.

“We’re trying to be very frugal about the whole thing,” he said.

Pulkkinen said the district would see about a $2,000 savings in chemicals this year since the trustees have agreed to follow the Maine Drinking Water Program’s recommendations for fluoride use. Those recommendations mean the district will add less fluoride to the drinking water. He said the dosage is being reduced from 1.2 to 0.7 parts per million.

The new recommendation is based on recent EPA and Department of Health and Human Services scientific assessments to balance the benefits of preventing tooth decay while limiting any unwanted health effects, according to an EPA website.

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