Published Date Written by Michael KitchLACONIA — Perhaps not surprisingly in a city filled with lakes, residents of Laconia paid a little more than half the state average cost of water in 2012 according to the rate survey recently released by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
The survey, which includes the rates of more than 90 water systems, calculated the average annual price of water for a single family home using 184.5 gallons per day at $414.77. The average cost of water to those served by the Laconia Water Department is $210.50, or $0.003 per gallon.
By comparison, the survey reported the average annual cost was $355 in Alton, $402 in Belmont, $60 in Meredith, $512 in Tilton-Northfield and $1,011 in New Hampton Village Precinct.
Last year, the Laconia Water Commission increased the local rate for the first time since 2007. The base rate remained $20 per quarter but the usage rate was raised from $1.15 per 100 cubic feet (hcf), which amounts to 748 gallons, to $1.45. Superintendent Seth Nuttleman projected that for the average household of four using 25 hcf a quarter the annual cost of water would rise by $30, from $195 to $225.
Paradoxically, rates have increased as the amount of water consumed has decreased. Three-quarters of the water systems surveyed by DES raised their rates in the past five years.DES based its survey on domestic consumption of 67,389 gallons per year, using actual data compiled by the United States Geological Survey, compared to 100,375 gallons in prior surveys. Nuttleman said that more efficient fixtures and appliances have contributed significantly to declining consumption, noting that volume of water the department has billed has dropped about 11-percent during the last five years. Rates have risen to bridge the gap between falling water sales and rising operating expenses.