As a reappointed Auburn Water District trustee by the Auburn City Council and recently elected treasurer for the district, I am opposed to the 15% rate increase and would suggest the Maine Public Utilities Commission revise the rate increase to 10%.

Almost a year ago, I discovered that the Lake Auburn cost sharing formula with the city of Lewiston was flawed. Unlike a written sewer cost apportionment agreement, the Auburn Water District has no agreement and draws approximately 40% of the water for the Auburn/Poland distribution system, but pays for 50% of the lake costs. Lewiston draws approximately 60% of the water and also pays 50% of the costs, creating an unacceptable disparity.

For example, this past summer, an in-lake alum treatment cost Auburn ratepayers $80,000 more than it should have. Had there been a cost apportionment agreement (a fair act and practice) with Lewiston, based on actual water withdrawal rates, there would be less issue with this rate increase. In fact, we would not have needed it altogether. This unfair practice has prompted a resolution by the Auburn City Council  and mayor requesting proper cost sharing going forward.

The cost sharing issue was initially opposed by the AWD superintendent and some of the trustees, so there has been no formal action by the trustees until recently. The trustees, by a majority, have agreed to start negotiations with the city of Lewiston by researching and collecting more data. These recent efforts by the trustees, in my opinion, do not negate our responsibility to fully disclose what we know to date. This should have been taken into consideration before asking our ratepayers to take on a 15% rate increase. This unbalanced cost sharing has been going on for decades, costing millions of dollars to citizens who have been overcharged. The UV disinfection plant, built 14 years ago, cost $4.4 million and Auburn paid more than its fair share as expected with no written agreement.

I respectfully request the rate increase not be allowed in excess of 10%, knowing fully, as treasurer, that the AWD can easily request another rate increase next year if cost apportionment continues to be an unresolved issue.

One final thought — what future costs will Auburn and Poland ratepayers be responsible for when the Region 1 EPA requires our fragile and very unique unfiltered water system to meet federal surface water rules? We have been on a waiver from filtration since the early 1990s and to properly filter our water will be an estimated $40 to $50 million in the year 2025.

Dan Bilodeau is an Auburn Water District trustee and treasurer.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.