Lowville passes water surcharge

From left, Lowville trustees Dan Salomon and Edward Murphy, Mayor Joseph Beagle, trustees Charles Terrillion and Timothy Widrick. The village board on Wednesday approved a water surcharge for industrial water customers that will only impact Kraft Heinz, the village’s largest employer and largest water user. Julie Abbass/Watertown Daily Times

LOWVILLE — With no comments from the public, the village board approved surcharges for industrial water users during its meeting Wednesday afternoon.

A weekly surcharge of $5,000 for industrial customers drawing at least 900,000 gallons in a given week has now been set.

An additional $1,000 will be charged for every day 1.1 million gallons of water are used, to be increased by $500 for every 100,000 additional gallons used in a day.

At this time, the village’s only water customer that will be impacted is its largest, Kraft Heinz.

The company has significantly increased its water use from between 750,000 and 850,000 gallons daily to between 950,000 and 1.3 million daily since July.

A representative for Kraft Heinz at Chicago corporate headquarters said in an emailed statement that an increase in production is the primary cause of the water use increase.

The village is only allowed to filter 1.4 million gallons of water daily. All other water users combined, including residential, commercial and industrial customers, use about 350,000 gallons daily.

After the Municipal Water and Sewer Board met on Tuesday evening, Mayor Joseph G. Beagle said that the village hopes the surcharge will encourage Kraft to mitigate water waste as much as possible or take other steps that will keep the water they need to a minimum while still supporting their operations properly, as happened previously with sewage treatment charges.

“You know before, Kraft was paying thousands of dollars in surcharges every month, but it got so high they made some changes and now, most months they don’t have to pay any surcharge at all,” Mr. Beagle said of the sewage treatment charges.

In 2017, the company was charged $48,750 in February and $64,500 in March for exceeding maximum limits for waste volume, pH and concentration.

A new payment deal on sewage was negotiated in 2018, with a flat fee for the first 1.1 million gallons of waste treatment daily with surcharges after that threshold. The company then brought its overage charges down to a minimum.

The board also approved Kraft’s sewage treatment surcharges for August and September of $0 and $450, during the Wednesday meeting.

Due to the sudden death last week of the Kraft Heinz representative who normally meets with the village, Mr. Beagle said in the board meeting that he does not yet know who the village will be speaking to next about the matter.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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