Berlin, County Eye Water Deal

BERLIN — Worried that the town might be jumping the gun and cutting out some current or future property owners from water coverage, the Berlin Mayor and Council voted Monday to delay approval of a Water Use Agreement with the Worcester County Commissioners.

“We just want to make sure that we know what the boundaries of that agreement are,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

Several years ago, Berlin and Worcester entered into an arrangement involving a water well located between Stephen Decatur Middle School and Stephen Decatur High School. At the time, problems with the county supply prompted Worcester officials to request use of the Berlin-owned well at the Briddletown Sanitary Service Area.

The arrangement allowed Worcester to tap into the Berlin water source. It wasn’t supposed to be a long-term solution, however.

“It was to be a temporary emergency measure,” said Water Resource Director Jane Kreiter.

County officials had planned to explore other sources in the area and alternative means of providing water to customers. But no other viable options were presented and Kreiter said the county would now like to enter into a permanent agreement with Berlin for use of the well.

Kreiter acknowledged that a long-term deal would be easier for the town to manage.
“We’d like them to install a meter,” she told the council.

Currently, Worcester is charging a flat rate based on an estimation of how much water the supplied area likely uses on average.

Councilwoman Paula Lynch expressed concern that Berlin might have been getting the tail end of the bargain by charging an estimated rate.

However, Kreiter pointed out that Worcester pays an outside town rate for use of the well, double the standard rate and therefore it’s likely that if anybody is coming out ahead in the existing arrangement, it’s probably Berlin.

Installing a meter would make everything neater, however, and Kreiter explained the meter would “help with our water audits as well.”

The council showed support for the deal but agreed with William’s recommendation that the agreement be postponed until a map can be presented with the exact boundaries to make sure no one will be excluded.

“We just want to make sure they’re getting good, clean drinking water,” Williams said.

He added the residents in the area “truly have an emergency need” and didn’t anticipate any problems.