Portsmouth Water District goes green with e-payments

14apr17_pwfd.jpgPortsmouth Water and Fire District customers can now pay their water bills online using the District’s new web payment portal, according to a release from the District. Payments can be made through a recurring credit or debit card payment or a recurring electronic draft from a checking account. In addition, customers can make a one-time credit card or debit card payment for a particular bill.

Customers can also use the web portal to look-up their payment and water usage history and to view their latest bill. Customers can select to have their water bills emailed to them rather than receiving a paper bill.

According to Administrative Board Chairman, Philip T. Driscoll, there are no charges to the customer for making payments through the District’s web portal. Driscoll indicated that the Board is trying to make it easier and “greener” for customers to receive and pay their water bills. In addition, Driscoll stated that the District is trying to encourage customers to pay electronically to reduce the additional foot traffic that is expected at the office with the switch to quarterly water billing.

The web portal will also be available to make payments for Water District Property Tax bills beginning in October of 2014.

The web portal can be accessed through the District’s website at by clicking on the “Pay My Bill” button near the top of the home page. Customers will be prompted to create an online account, which will require the account number from their water bill.

Customers can also sign-up for recurring payments and use a credit card for payment at the District office.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Localblogging, 02871, pwfd

Cortvriend, Driscoll re-elected to Portsmouth Water Board [update]

In a Portsmouth Water Board election where less than 1% of the eligible voters turned out, incumbents Terri Cortvriend (Commissioner) and Phil Driscoll (Clerk) were returned to office by huge margins.

In a District with 13,712 voters, there were just 50 ballots cast for a turnout of 0.36%. Cortvriend got 48 votes, while Driscoll received 46. The one write-in was a slate of "Anyone but Phil Driscoll" for Clerk and "Denis Coffey" for Commissioner.

Update: In their official press release this morning, the Portsmouth Water and Fire District said that the one write-in vote was for "Anyone," rather than what the election moderator, Fred Faerber read out, which was "Anyone but Phil Driscoll." When contacted about the discrepancy, General Manager William McGlinn said in an e-mail, "I was not at the Water Board election count, but have contacted our legal counsel who was present. He has indicated that the write-in ballot in question stated "anyone". Apparently, the moderator Pro Tem embellished the announcement as a joke."

I'm deeply disappointed in the PWFD. Reporters depend on the readout provided by election officials.

localblgging, 02871, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District -- VOTE TODAY!

13may24_vote.jpgToday is election day at the Portsmouth Water and Fire District, and polls are open from 7am to 8pm at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road.

Two incumbents are up for reelection — Terri Cortvriend (Water Commissioner) and Phil Driscoll (Clerk).

Remember to bring ID to comply with Rhode Island's deeply misguided voter ID law.

Voting matters, especially in elections like this turnout typically runs in the low hundreds, and a stealth write-in campaign (mounted, say, by some local anti-tax organization) could put a couple of people on this quasi-governmental board with taxing authority.

If you're a ratepayer in the District, please take a few minutes today to stop by the office and vote.

02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District election June 11

13may24_vote.jpgThe Portsmouth Water and Fire District will hold its annual election of officers on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road. The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM.

Of the Board's seven seats, the positions of one (1) Water Commissioner and one (1) Clerk are up for election.

Running for the position of Water Commissioner is incumbent Terri-Denise Cortvriend of 46 Mary Lane.

Running for the position of Clerk is incumbent Philip T. Driscoll of 169 Immokolee Drive.

As required by the recent change in State Law, voters will be required to show identification to vote in the District’s election.

Just because you only see one candidate for each position, please don't assume that these races will be uncontested. Turnout is typically in the low hundreds for these elections (to a quasi-governmental body with taxing power) and it is possible for undeclared candidates to succeed on a write in. In fact, this has actually happened in Portsmouth Water Board elections. If you're a ratepayer in the District, I urge you to get out to the polls on June 11. Don't worry -- I'll remind you.

Editorial note: The news section, before the commentary, is written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, Elections, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District hikes rate to pay for new treatment plants

14apr17_pwfd.jpgSome Portsmouth Water and Fire District customers will be seeing a nearly 30% rate increase this year, according to a release from the utility. For fiscal year 2015, which began on May 1, the average rate increase will be 28.9%.

According to Administrative Board Chair Philip T. Driscoll, the rate increases are largely attributable to a 19.41% increase in the wholesale cost of water purchased from the City of Newport. The increase from Newport is necessary to pay for the District’s share of the $84 million in debt service required for Newport to replace the Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant in Portsmouth and to significantly upgrade the Station One Water Treatment Plant in Newport. Construction of the plants began in 2012 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

Driscoll also indicated that the Administrative Board has restructured its billing practices. All water customers will be switched to quarterly billing beginning in May of 2014, while a handful of larger water users will be switched to monthly billing. The District will bill one-third of the quarterly customers each month in order to smooth out the staff workload for billing and payment processing. As part of this transition to quarterly billing, in their first quarterly bill only, some customers will be billed for two months of consumption and others will be billed for four months of consumption.

In addition, Mr. Driscoll also indicated that the Board has revised its water rate structure. The Board voted to eliminate the minimum charge that was billed in advance of service, which included twenty thousand gallons of water. Customers will now pay a quarterly base charge and a commodity charge, both billed in arrears, for the water metered during the quarter. In addition, the Board reduced the number of increasing water rate blocks from four tiers to two tiers. The first-tier rate for consumption between one and five thousand gallons per quarter will be $5.74 per thousand gallons. The second-tier rate will be $8.47 per thousand gallons for all consumption over five thousand gallons per quarter. The base charge will vary by meter size and will include the cost for the District to maintain and replace the water meter, radio reader and the curb stop assembly from the water main to the property line. The base charge also will include the cost to process meter readings and bill the customer. For a typical 5/8” residential water meter, the quarterly base charge will be $10.57. William J. McGlinn, the District’s General Manager and Chief Engineer, indicated that the base charges and commodity charges are based on a cost of service analysis conducted by the District and its professional water rate consultant. Although the District is not regulated by the RI Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Mr. McGlinn noted that the cost of service analysis is consistent with the procedures used by the PUC to establish water rates for regulated utilities.

Although the average water rate increase is 29.8%, the actual increase that customers experience in their total annual water cost will range from 20% to 40% depending on their meter size and quarterly water consumption.

For Residential customers:

Use per quarter (gallons) Percent increase Annual cost 2015 Annual cost 2014

5,000 20% $157 $131
10,000 35% $326 $242
20,000 37% $665 $486
25,000 35% $834 $619
50,000 24% $1,682 $1,357

The last annual water bills have been mailed for two-thirds of the District’s customers, with the final bills scheduled to be mailed during the week of May 19th. Because of the change in billing practices, these annual bills do not include the historical minimum charge for twenty thousand gallons of water in advance. Since the customers paid for the first twenty thousand gallons for FY-14 in their FY-13 water bill, the FY-14 annual bill only includes an overage charge for water used over twenty thousand gallons.

McGlinn indicated that the treatment plant work is required to enable Newport Water, Portsmouth Water and the Navy to meet current and future federal Safe Drinking Water Act water quality standards. Since 2000, the three island water suppliers have seen numerous violations of the act’s Disinfectants/Disinfection By-products Rule, specifically for trihalomethanes, or TTHMs. The rules for the maximum level for TTHMs became more restrictive this year, making compliance by the island’s water suppliers very unlikely with the current state of the Newport treatment plants. TTHMs, which the EPA classifies as a potential carcinogen, are a by-product formed when chlorine used in water treatment reacts with organic matter in the raw and treated water. In addition, Mr. McGlinn noted that the new treatment processes at the plants will be better able to treat the water for seasonal taste and odor problems, which have been a source of complaints over the years.

In addition to the increased cost of water purchased from Newport, Mr. Driscoll said that the current and projected annual rate increases are necessary to help fund the District’s operating costs, technology improvements, capital improvements and debt service.

The Board approved an operating budget of $3,749,089, which results in an increase over last year’s operating budget of 13.47%. The Board approved a total budget of $4,063,224, which includes capital expenses, for an increase over last year’s total budget of 13.58%.

The District’s property tax revenue will remain unchanged, with the exception of the revenue from the addition of new properties to the tax roll. The District’s current tax rate of $0.18 per thousand dollars of assessed value will be adjusted up or down based on the final assessed values determined by the Town of Portsmouth following its current revaluation process. The current annual district property tax is $72.00 for a property assessed at a value of $400,000. Property tax revenue represents only 12.8% of the District’s total revenue.

Driscoll indicated that the Board is working hard to properly maintain and improve the water system, while providing fair and reasonable rates for customers and taxpayers. Driscoll also indicated that the Board will continue to ensure that the cost it pays for wholesale water is fair and reasonable by working with Newport Water and intervening in water rate cases before the Public Utilities Commission, as necessary.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, pwfd

PWFD announces "Drinking Water Week"

14apr17_pwfd.jpgAt the April 15 board meeting of the Portsmouth Water and Fire District, Chairman Philip T. Driscoll read a proclamation declaring May 4, 2014 through May 10, 2014 to be Drinking Water Week, and asked all customers of the District to join in promoting and practicing water conservation in our daily lives.

During Drinking Water Week the Portsmouth Water and Fire District will be promoting water conservation. Driscoll said that every water user can have an impact by being 'water wise.' "We are not saying 'don't use the water', we are saying 'don't waste it'."

For the twenty-fourth consecutive year, the District will conduct a water conservation program for the town's third and seventh grade school children. The program aims to increase each student's awareness of the importance of water in their lives and to teach them how to conserve water. The emphasis of the program is on changing the water use habits of the children and their families through simple, commonsense techniques. This education program continues to be well received by the Portsmouth school system.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, localbloggging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water announces north end flushing schedule

Portsmouth Water customers in the north end of town may see some discoloration next week as the district conducts periodic maintenance by flushing the mains, the PWFD announced in an e-mail today.

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District will be flushing water mains from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. per the following schedule:

Oct 1 Willow Lane and Sprague Street., Bristol Ferry Road to Camara Drive and Mitchell Road, and side streets.
Oct 2 Bristol Ferry Road from Cherokee Drive to Bayview Avenue, Boyds Lane to East Main Road and side streets. East Main Road from Sprague Street and Child Street to Boyds Lane and side streets, including Viking Drive area.
Oct 3 Island Park and Hummocks Point areas.
Oct 8 Sprague Street to Freeborn Street, Turnpike Avenue and side streets; West Main Road from Statue Way to Sprague Street and side streets.
Oct 9 East Main Road from Child Street to Clements and Aquidneck Place and side streets to Sakonnet River. Also Common Fence Point.
Oct 10 Common Fence Point.

Discoloration of the water is expected during and after the flushing. Flushing in one area may create discolored water in other areas. Customers are advised to avoid washing clothes and those with hot water tanks are advised to avoid drawing hot water during the flushing hours and until any discoloration has cleared. It is expected that the water will clear by midday after the flushing. Customers may also experience low water pressure during the flushing.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Vote for Portsmouth Water Board today!

Please take five minutes today and head down to the Portsmouth Water & Fire District to vote in their Board election. Both of the incumbents, Joe Magliocco and Ron Molleur, have been doing a good job and deserve another term.

I know it's a pain to stop by the office at 1944 East Main Road, but this is one of the few elections -- anywhere -- that a write-in candidate can actually win. It has happened in the past.

Five minutes. East Main Road. Vote for the "M"s. Thanks!

02871, localbloggging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water Board election June 12

If you live in the Portsmouth Water & Fire District, you're eligible to vote in the upcoming election of officers on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at the District's main office at 1944 East Main Road. The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM.

Of the Board's seven seats, two are up for re-election, the incumbents Treasurer Joseph A. Magliocco of 7 Mill Lane and Moderator Ronald L. Molleur of 15 Molleur Road.

Voters should remember that as now required by in state law, identification will be required to vote in the District’s election.

Editorial note: While this seems like a low-risk election, because turnout is typically in the low hundreds, it's important to show up and vote. The incumbents have been doing a good job, and this is one of the few places where a silent write-in campaign could change the outcome. Please take a few minutes to stop by the office and vote on June 12. And don't worry -- I'll remind you.

02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Portsmouth Wapping Road closure next Tuesday

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Next Tuesday, April 9, a stretch of Wapping Road in Portsmouth between Bramans Lane and Old Mill Lane will be closed for water main work, according to a release from the Portsmouth Water and Fire District (PWFD).

Says the PWFD: "Motorists are advised that construction vehicles will be entering and leaving the area. It is expected that traffic will be impacted from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. Motorists are encouraged to seek alternative routes."

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, pwfd