To maintain and improve the City’s potable water distribution system in order to ensure a high quality and dependable water supply in a fiscally responsible manner. The department also enables adequate fire protection throughout the water distribution system to ensure public health and safety.
Personal Services Changes
Personal Services are projected to increase 28% for FY22.
Changes in salaries are due to negotiated collective bargaining agreements and merit increases based on annual performance reviews.
Position changes include new positions in the Infrastructure and Asset Management Department, including the Senior Project Manager (Asset Management) and Deputy Director of Engineering Projects; the addition of a Water & Sewer Billing Analyst; and the reclassification of the Field Operations Manager and System Analyst to Superintendent and Water & Sewer Billing Manager, respectively. In addition, the Water Primary Operator is now fully funded out of the Water Enterprise to reflect the addition of Sewer Primary Operator.
Capital Outlay Changes
Capital Outlay costs are projected to increase 8.2% for FY22.
Changes in Capital Outlay are largely driven by moving vehicle spending from debt financing into the Capital Outlay account. Additional funds are proposed to enable faster hydrant replacement, which will reduce the duration of service outages.
Ordinary Maintenance Changes
Rental of laydown area to save costs on construction contracts is built into this budget. Aside from this item, small net increase in Ordinary Maintenance driven by contract price escalation and reduction in lines to reflect recent spending.
Special Items Changes
Potable drinking water is supplied to Somerville residents by the Massachustts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The annual assessment for this service has been updated to reflect the FY22 preliminary assessment.
The Water Enterprise proportion of the proposed Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is also included in this account.
Debt Service Changes
Increase in debt service costs reflect new debt service resulting from Lead Line Replacement and water improvements to the Somerville Ave Utility Improvement project.
FY22 Proposed Rates
Proposed charges for properties billed three times per year (tri-annually) is shown in the table above. Further detail, including rates for properties billed every two months (bi-monthly) can be found here: https://www.somervillema.gov/departments/water-and-sewer/water-and-sewer-rates.
Please see also the 10-year rate study, available here: http://somervillecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=4&ID=15148&MeetingID=3373
Water Enterprise expenditures must equal revenue each year. The proposed revenue plan for Fiscal 2022, as well as revenue performance in FY2020, is shown in the table above.
In addition to proposed rates, the Water Department has proposed a change to the fee for Wireless Meter Readers from $175 to $375. The increase reflects the added cost paid by the City for the devices. The fee includes the additional cost of the device, installation, and network set-up cost for voluntary upgrades only (i.e., construction or by request of property owner).
FY22 Average Bill Impact
The table above shows the combined bill, including water and sewer usage and base charges, for several residential examples.
FY22 Goals & Measures of Progress
As essential workers, during fiscal year 2021 the Water Department was focused on maintaining necessary operations while following COVID-19 guidelines for employee and public safety.
During fiscal 2021, Water Department personnel responded to 18 water main breaks and responded to 3,045 QAlert/311 requests related to the water distribution system. In addition, with the help of contractors, the department performed backflow prevention inspections at over 1,400 locations.
Recruit Diverse Staff
- Continue recruiting to fill all vacant positions using diverse sourcing methods and inclusive interview process
- Invest in personnel so that all operators are certified and develop staff ability in order to bring 10% of outsourced work in-house
- Begin system-wide water meter replacement program by October
- Maintain all fire hydrants in service to ensure they are ready for use, year-round
- Ensure all water system gate valves are operational, year-round
Implement Strategic Planning
- Create gate valve exercising strategy by year-end
- Update water system flushing plan by year-end
- Integrate water system map into asset management program on an ongiong basis