Town wins water award

DES recognizes protection efforts

JAFFREY — Public Works Director Randy Heglin attended a Drinking Water Source Protection Conference in Concord on Wednesday, where he accepted a Source Water Sustainability Award from the Department of Environmental Services, recognizing Jaffrey’s effort in the past three years to reduce its water usage.

Each year, through two awards, DES recognizes a water system, municipality, organization, or person for efforts to protect drinking water resources. The Source Water Sustainability Award was first awarded in 2010, and recognizes work to preserve sustainability of drinking water resources.

“The recognition is certainly nice. I think it’s recognition that we’re doing something right and moving in the right direction,” said Doug Starr, Jaffrey’s town engineer and an employee of the Department of Public Works, in an interview Monday. Starr also attended the Drinking Water Source Protection Conference where the award was presented, along with members of the Jaffrey Water Department.

The town’s biggest contributions to conservation that DES identified are two professional acoustic leak detection surveys that the Department of Public Works has conducted over the past few years. The surveys identified more than 18 leaks, which have since been repaired. The town is also taking a proactive approach to dealing with future leaks in the town’s aging water system by implementing a water main survey and replacement program, which targets infrastructure showing the greatest need of replacement to help prevent new leaks.

Starr said the town began to implement a comprehensive water conservation plan two years ago when the town put in a third municipal well on Squantum Road. As part of the permitting process with DES, the town had to implement a conservation plan, and some of the goals made leak detection a new priority.

DES also recognized the town for how it works with customers to reduce water waste, including sending a 12-month history of usage with customers’ monthly water bills, and highlighting significant increases to notify customers of potential leaks.

“It’s for the customer, so that for the water user that pays attention it may generate some questions about what they can do to conserve their water,” said Starr, about bills that give a larger overview of water use. “It can also alert them, if you see a dramatic increase from one month to the next and the customer says, ‘Well, gee, I didn’t really do anything different,’ that there might be a problem. Something as simple as a leaky toilet can generate a lot of wasted water.”

Starr said the town will be continuing to look at water asset management in the coming years. Currently, the town has identified all the water pipes involved in distribution and aged them. Several of them will be earmarked for replacement eventually, said Starr, although those replacements will be spaced out over several years, in an attempt to keep the capital costs down. “There are still a considerable amount [of pipes] close to 100 years old,” said Starr. “With older pipes, while they can serve a function, it does make sense to look at which waterlines need to be upgraded or replaced. That does represent a capital expense. That’s something we’re taking a look at, and trying to come up with plans for a long-term capital program.”

Starr said the town hopes to take on a project for pipe upgrades every year to two years. “It would cost too much dollars to go out and do something all at once,” he said. “But if you look at prioritizing these, and spreading them out over time, that’s something that should be affordable and something that we can take a look at.”

The 2014 water rate in Jaffrey, which has remained the same since 2012, is $11.50 for the first 1,000 gallons and $1.40 for every 100 gallons thereafter.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com.

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