Gill sewer rate jumps

GILL — December’s quarterly sewer bill will reflect a 59 percent jump in the sewer rate, an increase approved Tuesday by the Board of Selectmen.

The new sewer rate is 13.5 cents per cubic foot, up from 8.5 cents, equating to an average quarterly sewer bill of $155, according to town Administrative Assistant Ray Purington.

This figure includes a traditional and all-but-universal 10 percent discount, which Purington said will remain in effect.

Gill has 114 sewer connections, concentrated in the Riverside section of town, with waste pumped across the river to Montague for treatment.

Selectmen’s Chairwoman Ann Banash told the five residents who appeared at last week’s informational meeting the rate has not increased in Gill in 10 years despite two increases in the rate charged by Montague during that time.

A faulty valve that allowed some Gill waste to flow back downhill to be measured again — Purington said it is not measured at the treatment plant — increased the town’s treatment costs last year.

That valve was fixed in February, according to Purington, but the sewer savings used to absorb Montague’s increased charges will soon be exhausted.

Purington and the selectmen have said an inflow and infiltration study should also be commissioned to determine where and how un-billed water is entering the waste stream, whether groundwater leaking into the pipes or sump pumps illegally connected to the sewer.

The rate increase represents the full amount recommended by Purington.

The Board of Selectmen, in its dual role as the Sewer Commission, had leaned toward an incremental increase, but residents at last week’s informational meeting supported the full increase.

Selectmen said they had reservations as to whether even that would be enough.

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