East Hartford farm forced to pay for unused service - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team Investigation

East Hartford farm forced to pay for unused service

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East Hartford farm forced to pay for unused service (WFSB) East Hartford farm forced to pay for unused service (WFSB)

A farmer in East Hartford said paying his water bill is like flushing money down the drain because he’s being charged a sewer fee, even though he doesn’t have a drain.

The Futtner’s family farm has supplied East Hartford with locally grown products since the 1970s.

In all of that time, Jim and Honora Futtner know that farming is a tough business, so they watch every penny, which is why they reached out to the I-Team when they found a big charge on their water bill.

“They were very nice at the MDC, and tried to explain it to us,” James Futtner said.

The charge is a special sewer fee, and started showing up on their bills in 2007.

They said it increased substantially two years ago, and in their latest quarterly bill they paid about $986 for water use, but more than $1,100 for the sewer charge.

But, they don’t use the sewer, and that charge made up more than half of their $2,000 bill.

They water the crops and clean the vegetables, but they don’t even have a single drain at the farm so they can’t use the sewer if they wanted to.

“A farmer that's just using it for irrigating, shouldn't have to pay for sewer use. We're being charged for something we don't use,” James Futtner said.

The Eyewitness News I-Team did some digging and convinced the MDC to take another look.

A spokesperson first told the I-Team what they told the Futtners, that the fee is repaying federal clean water funds used to upgrade the system and all customers pay it based on water use, not how much or how little they discharge into the sewers.

However, the I-Team wanted to know why and asked them to provide an example of what requires a customer with no sewer use to pay.

The MDC ultimately agreed to go to the farm and investigate what is going on at the property.

Turns out the Futtner's are right. There is no sewer line running to the farm, but there is a sewer line running to an old abandoned house on the same piece of property, so it turns out because of that sewer line they do owe the sewer charge. 

But going forward, the MDC is going to allow them to cut that sewer pipe, and once they do they won't have to pay the sewer charge in the future.

It is a relief for the farmers because the extra fee was coming straight off of their already stretched bottom line.

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