The Towns of Burin and Lewin’s Cove are both upset with a story appearing in last week’s issue of The Southern Gazette, entitled ‘Burin looks to cut water service to Lewin’s Cove’.
Burin Mayor Kevin Lundrigan said “It makes us out to look like the bad guy and we’re not.
“We don’t want to gouge Lewin’s Cove but we don’t want to pay anymore for our water. The only way to change our agreement is so it’s not detriment to our residents. We don’t want an extra cost for our residents to service Lewin’s Cove.”
He pointed out the $700,000 upgrade cost incurred at the Big Pond Reservoir, which services both Burin and Lewin’s Cove, was split two-thirds for Burin and one-third for Lewin’s Cove and accounted in part for the $45,000 billing.
“Yet, Lewin’s Cove is using an extra 26 million gallons of water (according to Lewin’s Cove own water meter) since the upgrade. It cost Burin $90,360 in 2011 to operate Big Pond – $41,000 alone to pay electricity charges and $19,000 for chlorination.”
He said it was unfair for Lewin’s Cove to compare water rate charges between Fortune and Grand Bank, where Grand Bank pays $30,000 a year to Fortune for a population of 2,500 people.
“The Fortune system is gravity fed with no or little electricity charges. Our Big Pond system has two electric motors to pump water up a grade.”
Mr. Lundrigan emphasized the agreement to supply water to Lewin’s Cove, he’s aware of, has been in force since 1980.
“During that 30 year period, we’ve also monitored chlorination for Lewin’s Cove.”
Burin has notified Lewin’s Cove it will no longer continue this monitoring at the end of this year.
The mayor noted on top of these expenditures Newfoundland Power has received permission from the PUB to increase electricity rates this year by another 6.6 per cent.
LEWIN’S COVE STAND
The Town of Lewin’s Cove has written a letter suggesting the focal point of its opposition to the water rate charges is not the $11,250 bill still owing for the fourth quarter of 2009.
“It is the fact our bills have fluctuated wildly over the past 10 years, ranging from $17,973.12 in 2011 to $45,042.27 in 2009.”
The letter indicated there was a meeting in May between the two towns but it involved representatives of both finance committees, who had to bring back recommendations to respective councils before any agreement was decided.
According to the letter, both towns would enquire of other communities of similar size with comparable agreements to ascertain a fair rate.
“Both Committees ended the meeting agreeing to bring these ideas to their respective councils for debate. All our inquiries point to the conclusion the Town of Lewin’s Cove has been overcharged for water usage for years.”
The letter ended with the assertion Lewin’s Cove would prefer to reach an agreement outside of the suggested arbitration, and was prepared to negotiate with Burin.
The Town of Burin has indicated it wanted to negotiate a new five-year agreement effective Jan. 1, 2013.