Recently, many of our members have received their first semi-annual water and sewer bill and had a case of sticker shock as the bill has increased over 300%. Most of this increase is directly attributable to connecting to town sewer which is billed at roughly twice the water bill.
Some residents thought their bill would be doubling. This may have been a misunderstanding: it was announced that the sewer portion of the bill would be about double the water portion. Therefore, adding the sewer to the water actually tripled most residents’ bill.
Your water bill’s reverse side has a cost table and explanation of how the bill is calculated. This calculation is the same for all Falmouth residents, including all residents who are hooked up to a sewer in other parts of town. This table can be found on the Town Website.
In simple terms, your home is allocated roughly 80 gallons of water per day for which you pay $.31 per day for water and, if connected to town sewer, $.72 per day . This is your minimum daily cost regardless of whether you use any water or not and is the same for all Falmouth town homeowners. If you use more than your allotted 80 gallons a day, you will be charged roughly one half penny per gallon for water and roughly a penny per gallon for sewage. Again, this charge is the same for all Falmouth residents.
If you were hooked up to the sewer in the past six months, your water meter should have been read at hookup and, for this six month period only, your sewer cost would have been prorated by the percent of the period you were connected. If this is not the case, contact the town water department at 508-457-2543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We researched how Falmouth water and sewer costs compared to other Massachusetts towns and were surprised to see how low our rates are. A comparison of 135 Eastern MA Towns was published in 2017 by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
This lengthy report has a table on page 8 which basically says that Falmouth water and sewer is reasonably priced as a comparison to other communities.
On page 10, for instance, Belmont’s water charges of 6.36 per HCF and sewer of 12.68 are both much higher than Falmouth. Newton, as another example, has a tiered rate starting at 6.45 HCF for water and 9.25 HCF for sewer, again significantly higher than Falmouth.
Pick any of the towns in the report and you can quickly see that Falmouth water is reasonably priced and most towns’ sewer price is roughly double the water price. While the 3X increase after sewer hookup seems disturbing, our research has shown it is both fair within the Town of Falmouth as well as reasonable compared to other towns in the state.
While we may not like it, water is a valuable and increasingly limited resource that we pay for, once to use and double that to dispose of. Be aware of your water usage and realize that there is a cost associated with long showers, sprinkler systems and washing the car in the driveway.
On a separate note, Falmouth April 2018 Town Warrant Article 32 asked for a 2nd water meter for “outside “ water not to be included in sewer charges, but it was voted down verbally at Town Meeting. The Article asked that the Town pay for both the meter itself and its installation. This may come back up again at November town meeting as an article asking for permission to have the homeowner pay for both the meter and its installation.