Bridgewater: Town to provide relief for ‘abnormally high’ water bills

Bridgewater town government will be providing relief to some of the 30% of the town’s water rate payers who recently received what seemed like “artificially high” water bills.

Town Manager Michael Dutton said the Bridgewater Water Department had sent out bills in a prior billing cycle that were “artificially low” due to faulty meter readings.

“Now the bills that were sent out most recently reflect actual meter reads,” Dutton said.

Dutton stressed the fact that the recent bills reflect only water that was actually used by the rate payers.

Town Council approved an emergency measure proposed by Councilor Scott Pitta Tuesday night, giving Dutton the authority to adjust some bills and put forth a 12-month timetable for financially strained rate payers to pay off their water bill balances.

Dutton agreed with the measure, saying that the town has an obligation to “ease the burden”  because the town is at fault.

Some Councilors were concerned that the Water Department did not send out any notification or explanation with the abnormally high bills.

“We have a lot of technology upgrades to make at the Water and Sewer Departments,” Dutton said, “We really didn’t know until the most recent billing how drastic the problem was.”

Dutton added that they’re working hard to fix the problem. “We’re already on the track of trying to fix it long-term by getting us into the 21st century in terms of electronic billing, electronic meter reading, and so forth,” he said.

Dutton said this work has been underway for about four or five months now.

Pitta said his biggest concern is that he first heard about this issue through Facebook.

Before the emergency measure was put in place, Dutton said he had already authorized the Water Department to issue abatements in cases where people  were pushed into a higher tier because of the billing issues.

Pitta acknowledged that the approved measure is the Council’s statement to the citizens that a mistake was made, and they are taking the necessary steps to fix the problem.

About Samantha Tracey

Samantha Tracey graduated from Salem State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. She has been reporting on local issues in a variety of towns: Bridgewater, Abington, Carver, Weymouth, East Bridgewater, Hanson, Halifax, etc. She says growing up on the South Shore has made it interesting now to be covering news in such familiar places.