Water and Sewer Rates

Proposed FY19 Water & Sewer Rates Now Available

The FY19 rates represent no increase in water volumetric charges, a 5% increase in sewer volumetric charges, and The creation of a fire suppression charge for customers with fire service lines. Scroll down to the tabs below for more information. This adjustment is consistent with the rate study completed during FY2016.

  • Proposed FY19 Rates

  • FY18 Residential Rates

  • FY18 Commercial Rates

  • Proposed Fire Suppression Charge

Info Session & Public Hearing on Proposed FY19 Water & Sewer Rates, May 14

No change to water rates, proposed sewer rate increase 5% and proposed fire suppression charges for customers with fire service lines

To provide background, answer questions, and take public testimony regarding the proposed fiscal year 2019 Somerville Water and Sewer Rate Charges — including a fire suppression charge for the subset of customers (fewer than 630) with sprinkler systems and fire service lines— an Informational Session with Q&A followed by a Public Hearing will be held on Monday, May 14, at 6 p.m. in the Somerville High School Cafeteria, 81 Highland Avenue.

The Informational session with Q&A starts at 6 p.m. The Public Hearing will follow promptly at 6:30 p.m., and during this time, members of the community are invited to provide public testimony for the record. Additional Q&A time will be offered following the hearing if attendees have remaining topics of discussion.

Offered by the Director of the Water & Sewer Department, the purpose of this hearing is to compile testimony from Somerville ratepayers relevant to the fiscal year 2019 water and sewer rates. The Informational Session will provide an explanation of the rate changes and will give ratepayers an opportunity to ask questions. All are invited to attend, join the informal discussion, and/or provide official testimony.

Written testimony will also be accepted through noon Friday, May 18. Please send testimony with your full name and address to Director of Water and Sewer John DeLuca by email to [email protected] or by mail to the address below. Please note that mailed testimony must be postmarked by noon on May 18:

Director John DeLuca
City of Somerville Water & Sewer Dept.
17 Franey Road,
Somerville, MA 02145

Proposed Rates     

Pursuant to Chapter 11, Section 11-125 and Section 11-164 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Somerville, the table below outlines the proposed water & sewer volumetric rates for the fiscal year 2019, which runs from July 2018 through June 2019.

The FY19 rates represent no increase in water volumetric (usage) charges, a 5% increase in sewer volumetric charges, no change to existing base charges in both water and sewer, and the creation of a fire suppression charge only for customers with fire suppression systems (such as sprinklers). These adjustments are all consistent with the rate study completed during FY16.

Residential

FY2019 Volumetric Charges ($/unit)

Tier

Usage
(units of 100 cubic feet)

Water

Sewer

Combined

1

0-13

$4.14

$8.20

$12.34

2

14-67

$5.97

$10.46

$16.43

3

68-133

$6.26

$10.97

$17.23

4

OVER 133

$6.50

$11.36

$17.86

(100 cubic feet is equal to 748 gallons)

 

Commercial

FY2019 Volumetric Charges ($/unit)

Tier

Usage
(units of 100 cubic feet)

Water

Sewer

Combined

1

0-10

$4.14

$8.20

$12.34

2

11-100

$5.97

$10.46

$16.43

3

101-200

$6.26

$10.97

$17.23

4

OVER 200

$6.50

$11.36

$17.86

(100 cubic feet is equal to 748 gallons)

Fire Suppression Charge

The recommended fire suppression charge is outlined in the table below and further information on the fire suppression charge can be found on the City website at www.somervillema.gov/water

Recommended Annual Fire Suppression Charges 

Fire Suppression Line Size (in)

Original Proposed Annual Charge

NEW Recommended Annual Charge

0.75

$124

$34

1

$124

$34

1.25

$174

$48

1.5

$248

$68

2

$397

$109

2.5

$558

$153

3

$744

$204

4

$1,240

$340

6

$2,480

$680

8

$3,968

$1,088

10

$6,200

$1,700

More Information

If you have any further questions, please contact the Water and Sewer Department at 617-625-6600 ext. 5850.

Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact should contact Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or [email protected]

FY18 Residential Volumetric Charges ($/100 cu. ft.)

100 cu. ft. = 748 gallons

Tier Usage in Units of 100 cu. ft. Water Sewer Combined
1 0-13 $4.14 $7.81 $11.95
2 14-67 $5.97 $9.97 $15.94
3 68-133 $6.26 $10.45 $16.71
4 134+ $6.50 $10.82 $17.32


On July 1, 2016 the City of Somerville Water & Sewer Department instituted a base monthly water connection charge. This amount is factored based upon meter size as shown in the following table. For example, an account with a 5/8” meter will be billed $5.00 per month or $20.00 per bill based on a four month, tri-annual billing cycle. Commercial accounts will continue to bill bi-monthly, thus the appropriate base charge will be applied twice a billing cycle.

Tri-Annual Residential Base Water Charge (Every 4 Months)

Meter Size Monthly Charge Per-Bill Charge
5/8" $5 $20
3/4" $5 $20
1" $5 $20
1-1/12" $10 $40
2" $16 $64
3" $30 $120
4" $50 $200
6"+ $100 $400


The City has also instituted a base monthly sewer charge of $10 per month, adjusted to reflect the same meter equivalent adjustments.

Tri-Annual Residential Base Sewer Charge (Every 4 Months)

Meter Size Monthly Charge Per-Bill Charge
5/8" $10 $40
3/4" $10 $40
1" $10 $40
1-1/12" $20 $80
2" $32 $128
3" $60 $240
4" $100 $400
6"+ $200 $800

 

It should be noted that the majority of residential accounts have either 5/8”, 3/4” or 1” meters and thus will fall into the lowest base charge meter factor. This charge will remain level over five years. Additionally, they incorporate the American Water Works Association Standard factors to better align City practices with industry guidelines.

FY18 Commercial Volumetric Charges ($/100 cu. ft.)

100 cu. ft. = 748 gallons

Tier Usage in Units of 100 cu. ft. Water Sewer Combined
1 0-10 $4.14 $7.81 $11.95
2 11-100 $5.97 $9.97 $15.94
3 101-200 $6.26 $10.45 $16.71
4 201+ $6.50 $10.82 $17.32


On July 1, 2016 the City of Somerville Water & Sewer Department instituted a base monthly water connection charge. This amount is factored based upon meter size as shown in the following table. For example, an account with a 5/8” meter will be billed $5.00 per month or $20.00 per bill based on a four month, tri-annual billing cycle. Commercial accounts will continue to bill bi-monthly, thus the appropriate base charge will be applied twice a billing cycle.

Bimonthly Commercial Base Water Charge (Every 6 Months)

Meter Size Monthly Charge Per-Bill Charge
5/8" $5 $10
3/4" $5 $10
1" $5 $10
1-1/12" $10 $20
2" $16 $32
3" $30 $60
4" $50 $100
6"+ $100 $200


The City has also instituted a base monthly sewer charge of $10 per month, adjusted to reflect the same meter equivalent adjustments.

Bimonthly Commercial Base Sewer Charge (Per-Bill Charge)

Meter Size Monthly Charge Per-Bill Charge
5/8" $10 $20
3/4" $10 $20
1" $10 $20
1-1/12" $20 $40
2" $32 $64
3" $60 $120
4" $100 $200
6"+ $200 $400

 

What is a fire suppression charge? 

A fire suppression charge is a fee from the City of Somerville Water department that applies to buildings that have fire service lines that rely on the City's water system.  

Fire service lines are pipes that run from the City water main in the street into a building or property for the sole purpose of supplying water to fire sprinkler systems.  This is a service which the large majority of water system customers do not receive.

Currently, while the subset of customers who have fire suppression connections receive the financial benefit of this service (through reduced fire insurance costs), the City does not recover the costs of providing fire suppression service from fire suppression customers. Rather those costs are currently recovered through system-wide water usage (volumetric) charges to all users.  Like a highway toll, the fire suppression charge will shift the cost of this service to those who receive the benefit. 

How can I tell if I have to pay a fire suppression charge?

If you do not have a fire suppression system (e.g., a fire sprinkler), you will not receive a fire suppression charge from the City.  If you have a fire suppression system, you should have received a Cross-Connection Inspection Report from the Water Department. If you are unsure if you have a fire suppression system, please call the water department at (617) 625-6600 ext. 5850.

How much is the fire suppression charge?  

Fire suppression charges are based on the size of the fire service pipe that serves a property.

To determine the size of the pipe in a fire suppression system, customers may consult their latest Cross-Connection Inspection Report. If you have questions about the size of your fire service pipe or you have not received a Cross-Connection Inspection Report, please call the water department at (617) 625-6600 ext. 5850.

How does the City determine the size of a fire service pipe?

An audit of fire service lines that serve fire suppression systems was performed over the past year to determine the size of each fire service pipe.

Who is required to have a fire suppression system?  

Fire suppression system requirements are regulated by the Massachusetts Building Code and Fire code. Most forms of new building construction are required to install a fire suppression system. The size of a pipe for fire suppression systems is regulated by the Massachusetts Building Code and corresponds to the function and size of a given property. The pipe is sized to ensure an adequate volume of water in the event of a fire.

Why is the water department charging for a fire suppression system?  

The fire suppression charge is a common way that municipalities ensure that customers receiving these additional benefits contribute financially to pay for the cost the City incurs in providing those benefits.  

In addition, property owners with fire service connections receive the benefit of immediate access to large volumes of unmetered water to protect their buildings and occupants from fire. Buildings with fire suppression sprinklers tend to receive lower insurance rates, which can help offset the cost of fire suppression charges. 

Which other local cities and towns charge for fire suppression systems?

Cambridge, Boston, Arlington, Framingham, Springfield, Norton, Andover, and Watertown all charge a similar fire suppression fee.

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