Engineering study for dam fall through cracks

Engineering work falls through the cracks

The town will have to encumber funds from a 2013 warrant article to do an engineering study on the New Reservoir Dam, after a lack of clear responsibility left the work undone in 2013.

The town will have to encumber funds from a 2013 warrant article to do an engineering study on the New Reservoir Dam, after a lack of clear responsibility left the work undone in 2013. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

WILTON — A lack of clarity in responsibility seems to be behind a delay in an engineering study for the New Reservoir Dam.

In 2012, the town was notified by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services that an engineering study was required to address deficiencies in the dam. A warrant article for $16,600 was presented to the town in March 2013 — and approved — but the engineering study was not completed.

But with the end of the year looming late in December, the funds approved for the engineering study at Town Meeting were about to expire. So Tom Schultz of the Wilton Water Commission met with the Select Board at its Monday meeting to discuss encumbering the funds.

“I don’t know why it didn’t get done,” said Schultz at the meeting about the study. “But there must have been a disconnect between the town and the Water Commission, because it didn’t.”

Schultz said that because the funds were raised with town funds, and was not part of the Water Commission budget, the Water Commission believed that the town was responsible for arranging and awarding the engineering contract. Conversely, the Select Board believed the Water Commission would be taking charge. The issue was not alleviated by multiple changes in board members over the past year, including the resignation of the previous commission chair, Bob Duquette, the overturning of Water Commissioner Jim Tuttle during elections in March, and the resignation of Water Commissioner Dan Hastings in April. And Though Bill Condra sits on both boards, the issue was never raised until it became clear that the end of the year was approaching and the funds had not been spent.

Select Board Chair Dan Donovan instructed Schultz to contact HTE Northeast in Bedford, the engineering company that provided the quote for the engineering study in 2012, to ascertain whether the quote is still viable. Further, Donovan said, the Water Commission should contact the DES to confirm the engineering requirements. Once assured that the allocated funds would be adequate, the warrant article funds could be encumbered into 2014 to pay for the work.

In other Water Commission news, Schultz informed the Select Board that the commission had convened a meeting with Road Agent Steve Elliot concerning issues that had been raised between the commission and the Highway Department. The outcome of the meeting, according to Schultz, was that Water Superintendent Mike Bergeron had been notified that he would not “hang around” the town barn or use Highway Department equipment. Schultz said one issue is still in contention. Elliot had told the commission he wished to be the point person on town emergencies, including those that involve water systems. The Commission believes that in the case of water-related issues, Bergeron should be the lead person. State regulations require a person to be licensed and certified to operate water systems, said Schultz, which qualifies Bergeron.

Donovan noted this issue had come up between a previous Water Commission and road agent, and it had been decided that the water superintendent would maintain control in water emergencies. He was not willing to vote or create a policy on the issue, however, until the Select Board had discussed it with Elliot, he said.

The Select Board will meet next on Monday in the Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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