Nearly 300 homes still need toilet upgrades
At its monthly meeting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners Monday, the Town Council approved a surcharge fee, the amount to be determined next month, as a fine for water customers who still have not retrofit their toilets to save water with each flush.
Commissioners received the update on the retrofit program they requested last month from Denise Jennings, the town water and sewer clerk. Her data showed that 219 customers still are not in compliance with the retrofit program that started in 1999 and offered rebates of $50 to $125 to
321 water customers, for a total of $30,000, to get the work done by last year's deadline. The department's latest alert to laggards went out in February to nearly 300 water customers, resulting in compliance by more property owners. The town has 680 municipal water customers.
In response to councilors' questions, Jennings reported that she had received telephone inquiries from others, mostly seeking information about requirements for compliance, but she has received no clear indication why those not in compliance have not had retrofits done. Some people had taken and possibly installed the retrofit devices for faucets and showers provided by the water department, but have not yet installed the required lowflow toilets they must buy.
Councilman William Kelly suggested that publishing the names of those in violation might speed up their compliance, but others favored a surcharge system to gain compliance.
Town Solicitor Lauriston Parks said he would assist Town Administrator Bruce Keiser with defining the penalty as a fine for each day the retrofits are lacking after the board sets amounts and a deadline at its next meeting. Parks previously advised councilors that they had authority to shut off the water of violators, but no action was taken on that option.
Kelly and Councilman Michael Schnack both specified that the goal is to conserve water. Schnack said customers might need a reminder that using less water means their water bills could be lower.