Rotterdam city leaders consider ways to avoid water meters
ROTTERDAM, NY (NEWS10) – City council members say if Rotterdam residents don’t want water meters, they shouldn’t have to get them, but that may be easier said than done. As NEWS10 reported, news of a long-running exchange with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation came out of the woodwork throughout March, and neighbors are in for it. mad.
“People are furious, fired up, panicked and frustrated about water meters in Rotterdam,” says board member Joe Mastroianni.
“I think it’s very well known throughout the city that people here don’t want water meters and never have them, and if that’s what they want, that’s what we want too,” says supervisor Mollie Collins.
NEWS10 reported that when Rotterdam renewed its water permit in 2017, it came with the condition that all customers had to be measured. In fact, a DEC representative said in a statement Friday that the meter regulations were passed in April 2013, and over the past nine years the state has phased in cities.
DEC never pressured them to move, as there was no deadline; however, a check of the DEC permit application site shows that in April 2019, Rotterdam applied to sell water to Guilderland and increase its water withdrawal limit from 10 million gallons per day to 12 million and the additional two million going to Guilderland.
A letter from the DEC to Supervisor Collins informs him that when the agency registered in Rotterdam at this time, it was discovered that the city had not carried out any of the work to which it had committed in a conservation plan of water submitted with the 2017 permit renewal application. . The regulators then became interested again in the counting of the city. Supervisor Mollie Collins says she’s looking for a way to keep the warrant at bay.
“Through education, conservation and the leak detection program, I think we will have a better handle on this,” she tells NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
The DEC says the main purpose of the metering initiative is to limit water loss. Friday’s statement reads in part:
These programs and customer meters have proven effective because DEC regularly sees water providers discovering major leaks or other losses in their system. Stopping or reducing these losses will not only result in better water conservation, but can also result in energy savings for the supplier.
Rotterdam hopes that if they can come up with their own alternative, there may be no need for meters for residential customers.
“One of the things we have going for us in Rotterdam is that the majority of us are still on septic tanks, and if you were brought up that way you know you don’t let the water running continuously while you’re doing the dishes or this or that, because it’s saved in your septic system,” Collins says. “So I think if we can present a strong public education initiative on conservation and our own leak detection program, it might help us talk to DEC and stop [metering] before it even starts.
“We have wooden pipes under the industrial park. Some suspect that we have a leak of several million gallons of water under the industrial park. We may have leaks in other parts of the city for which we have to do a leak detection study,” says Mastroianni.
“We intend to present residents with the options available to us and we want to make decisions that will cost the city and residents the least in the long term,” he continues.
While the sale to Guilderland may have renewed DEC’s push for a plan, it feels like a bell that can’t be undone. Collins says the contract is due to expire within the next two years, but the choice not to renew cannot be made without careful consideration.
“I was very outspoken against this plan in 2019, and one part that never made sense to me is that the rate actually gets cheaper the more they get from us. But if their water supply is dependent on us right now, you can’t just cut off a municipality’s water supply because you have basic fire protection and public health to worry about,” Collins concedes.
“I think it was a bad deal with Guilderland. We sell very clean water from an excellent source in the capital region at below market value. This deal was not the best agreement for this city and water meters are a controversial topic in the city. If in this agreement we have committed to something that the city does not want, then we have to start the conversation about our alternatives, “says Mastroianni .
“The city of Guilderland has actually approached us and wants to double the amount they get from Rotterdam, but we wouldn’t be able to do that with the current infrastructure we have,” he also adds.
For now, they are waiting to see if DEC will accept another option or if the counters are inevitable. Although these board members strongly oppose the initiative, they admit that some townspeople might actually save money later.
“Currently, everyone is paying the exact same rate, whether you’re in a one-bedroom condo or a four-bathroom house with a leaky pool, but there are misconceptions and confusion that complicate the problem,” says Mastroianni.
“We don’t have a rate as to how many gallons of water each resident would get to start with, what would the charge be if you went over that? With so many unknowns, I can’t speak to the possible savings that may or may not be there,” Collins says.