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Public weighs on WSSC rate structure

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WSSC LogoROCKVILLE – County residents weighed in on proposed changes to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s rate structure during a public hearing Oct. 19.

In March, members of the Maryland Public Service Commission ruled that WSSC’s rate structure unfairly discriminated against larger households, requiring the water utility to changes its rate structure.

WSSC has held public hearings on five proposed rate structures since the PSC’s ruling in seven months ago. The PSC held a public hearing on two of the five proposed rate structures. Three of the five options would increase the bill of the average WSSC customer, which is currently $205 a quarter for 165 gallons a day of water used. Option 3B and Option 4A would lower the water/sewer bill for residential customers using 165 gallons per day.

WSSC vice chairperson T. Eloise Foster said WSSC officials scheduled the public hearings as a way for the public to give feedback on the proposed changes in the rate structures.

“It was really clear to us from these meetings that we need to do a better job of building trust with our customers,” Foster said.

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Council questions WSSC rate structure change

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LAUREL – A change in county water bills is almost certainly coming, but exactly how much more (or less) residents will pay is still to be determined.

On March 30, the Prince George’s County Council Transportation, Housing and Environment Committee (THE) held a joint meeting with their counterpart from the Montgomery County Council, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) committee to hear from Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission staff about progress on the utility’s rate structure study. WSSC has to change the rate structure to remain financially viable, officials say.

“There’s always this tension between having enough revenue to meet the needs for providing the services, both water and sewer, but also on the capital side,” said Council member Todd Turner, chair of THE. “People are consuming less water, so because the revenues aren’t coming in because of the consumption, what are you going to do? Unfortunately, nothing goes down in cost, it seems like, so in making that (increase) reasonable, there’s a balance that we have to find as part of this process.”

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Gaithersburg gets legislative update

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Gaithersburg Govt logo

GAITHERSBURG—Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council were briefed Monday night about several issues of concern to the city in the current state legislative session. Monica Marquina, the city’s legislative affairs director, and Rob Garagiola, of the lobbying firm Alexander and Cleaver, which represents Gaithersburg, discussed their efforts working with the legislature thus far and their goals for the remaining third of the session where, Garagiola said, “90 percent of the work is still ahead.”

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Public weighs in on WSSC rates

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ROCKVILLE – Last week was one of the final chances for the public to weigh in on the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission proposed rate increase for water.

As part of its proposed Fiscal Year $1.4 billion 2018 budget, WSSC plans to raise water and sewer rates by 3.5 percent. The budget covers both operating and capital costs. The increase would add an additional $1.46 to the monthly bill of the average WSSC ratepayer who uses 137 gallons of water per day.

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Unknown chemicals may pose water supply risk

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As it turns out, the old adage may be right – what you don’t know can harm you.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates 83 contaminants as part of its primary standard on drinking water.

These contaminants include lead, trihalomethanes, asbestos, bacteria and viruses, which if above a certain level, are a risk to human health.

But the EPA also has another list of 30 contaminants that agency monitors but does not regulate.

For many of these contaminants the science is unclear whether they are a health risk to people, while others clearly pose a risk to people.

“The only concern is something we don’t already know, that just started coming up in the newspaper and we don’t know how to test for it or something some people may say it’s bad, but we don’t know whether it’s really bad,” said Jin Shin a water quality manager at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the primary water utility for people in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

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County Council weighs in on WSSC infrastructure

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With 1,800 breaks a year on average in the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's (WSSC) infrastructure system, members of the Montgomery County Council said there needs to be more investment in the utility’s infrastructure.

WSSC’s water mains and pipes are often susceptible to breaks. About 25 percent of WSSC’s water mains are 50 years are older.

To keep sediment and other containments out of the water mains, WSSC pumps water at a high pressure.

“I kind of look at it as the Metro of water,” said Council member Marc Elrich (D-At large).

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Letters to the Editor, October 13, 2016

Robots and the school year?

To the editor;

“OK, robot waitress.  Your first recommendation was the slow baked salmon with lemon and thyme.    I’ll try that.  With the peas and carrots.  By the way, that is a snazzy outfit you’re wearing…. You’re welcome. ”  

In a few years conversations like this will become common.   More broadly, robots will increasingly perform many jobs now performed by humans.   We may expect that the robots generally will first be used to do repetitive physical jobs.   Jobs remaining available to humans will involve greater complexity and skill.  Less skilled humans will have a harder time finding work.   New kinds of human jobs will be created more slowly than traditional jobs disappear.

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WSSC rates called "Unfair"

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ROCKVILLE – Calling the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC) rates unfair, WSSC customer testified against the company’s rate structure last week during a Montgomery County Council public hearing on the utility’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

At the hearing, WSSC customers testified to the council about what they called an unfair rate structure, calling for the Council to restructure how WSSC charges its customers.

“The ball is now squarely in your court, and that of the (Prince George’s) County Council, to move ahead to assure a reasonable rate structure is implemented that treats all of WSSC’s residential ratepayers, your constituents, fairly” said Richard Boltuck, a resident of Bethesda.

“Perhaps that will not happen in FY ‘18, but there are simply no remaining excuses for it be delayed beyond FY ‘19. For that to happen, however, you must insist clearly and unequivocally to WSSC now that this council will not approve an unduly discriminatory rate structure next year.”

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Okay it really isn't that sexy

Faucet Running Water

Mayor Bridget Newton of Rockville nailed it.

Infrastructure “isn’t sexy.”

It’s one of those issues that attracts about as much attention as a quiet yawn in Church.

You know it’s there, but you pretend it isn’t – that is until it fails.

The residents of the Washington D.C. Metro area are only too familiar what happens then.

Our subway cars burst into flames. Our exploding water mains create previously unknown and definitely unwanted white-water rafting rides on local city streets.

The power goes out and on occasion homes explode or burst into flames.

Of all the natural resources at man’s disposal, however, it is how we treat our water supply that should be of most concern.

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Water quality may have adverse effect on your pets

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SEABROOK – County residents may want to think twice before giving Fido a bowl of water or filling Swimmy’s tank in Prince George’s County.

Over the past few months The Sentinel Newspapers has conducted a series of water tests throughout the county. The tests samples were pulled from city water, provided through the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), while local rivers and lakes and were analyzed by National Testing Laboratories Ltd. in Ypsilanti, Mich.

While the water sampling did not yield any serious red flags in water quality, as most contaminates fell below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, The Sentinel found numerous traces of metals, moderate to high levels of chlorine and variances in water hardness.

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