The Town Manager’s Office has hired a team of consultants to evaluate Winthrop’s water loss and water rate.
“The community has had questions about water/sewer rate increases,” CFO Anna Freedman told the Transcript. “This project is intended to help address those questions.”
Winthrop’s average user rates are on the higher end for towns within the Mass. Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The study is intended to find out why and, if possible, reduce user rates.
The consultant team consists of Mark and Matthew Abrahams from the Abrahams Group, and Ryan Trahan of Environmental Partners. The scope of their services is divided into rate analysis and development, and project management and deliverables.
In terms of rate analysis and development, the group will assess the town’s water loss and its impact on the water/sewer rate, establish a new FY22 water rate based on water loss mitigation, recommend financial policies and programs, develop revenue requirements for a water/sewer fund, analyze current rate projection to determine user impact, study cash flow and recommend reserve balances, and train staff to use a water rate spreadsheet.
On the project management and deliverables side, consultants will update stakeholders regularly, engage in conference calls, make suggestions, and present at public meetings.
The work plan is divided into four phases: project planning, a water and sewer rate study, a water audit, and a final report.
Project planning will consist of assessing the Town’s needs and its current situation, establishing a work plan and schedule, setting the rate for FY22, and developing a water audit.
The water and sewer rate study will review the capital improvement program, predict future costs, develop non-meter revenue requirements, estimate consumption, review billing, update rates, and forecast revenue.
During the audit of the Town’s water system, the team will gather data, evaluate meters, review calibration records, measure unmetered consumption, evaluate the leak detection system, create a map of known leaks, present initial findings, document results and provide recommendations.
Finally, a report will be submitted to the Town by early June, in time for the FY22 budget.
The study overview can be viewed on the Town’s website.