$8 million price tag for new water supply

  • A $4 million bond to rebuild the highway garage could come before Peterborough voters at May Town Meeting. File Photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/20/2019 3:33:20 PM

Right now the Peterborough May Town Meeting warrant is likely to include proposals for $12 million worth of bonds. One bond article would ask voters to approve an $8 million bond to fund a new water source for the town. The other bond would be for about $4 million to fund a new highway garage. 

For more than two years, Peterborough has been negotiating the purchase of the Cold Stone Springs well site, which has three wells which have already been tested as drinking-water quality. This May, the town anticipates presenting a warrant article for $8.26 million to purchase the property, build a water treatment plant and connect the water source to Peterborough’s municipal water supply.

“We need this water supply,” Select Board Chairwoman Barbara Miller said Tuesday. “Especially if we’re going to grow, and attract businesses.”

If approved, the bond would not be paid for by taxes, but through the water rates, Peterborough Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett said Tuesday.

Bartlett said he has not completed the analysis for what impact the bond could have on the water rates.

The purchase of the land and wells themselves is estimated to cost $2.7 million. Connecting to Peterborough’s water system is estimated to cost about $3.25 million. Water treatment is anticipated to cost $2.31 million.

While Peterborough plans to request the entire sum, Bartlett said the town is looking at other sources of revenue, including a partnership with the town of Jaffrey and a grant from the Drinking Water Groundwater Trust Fund.

The grant Peterborough has applied for from the trust fund could cover up to 30 percent of the cost, or $2.478 million.

Jaffrey has not proposed any funds this year to contribute to the purchase or development of the site but has been in talks with Peterborough about partnering on the sites facilities and usage of the water.

Bartlett said those talks were still occurring, but the town planned to have a preliminary cost-sharing model worked out in time for discussions at Peterborough’s Town Meeting in May. There is still time to work those details out, Bartlett said, as the town isn’t likely to be ready to develop the site until early 2021 at the earliest.

Peterborough currently has three functioning wells, which provide a sufficient water supply to the town. The wells on the Cold Stones Springs site could provide up to an additional 76,000 gallons per day, which is more than Peterborough’s entire current water usage. However, Miller said, town water is an important piece of economic development.

Manufacturers, particularly, have a need for large-scale water usage, and expansion of Peterborough’s current businesses or additional businesses coming to Peterborough could increase the need for public water significantly.

“Successful industrial parks, they’re not on private wells and septic systems,” he said. “They’re on public water and sewer.”

Also, Bartlett said, while in normal circumstances the water supply is enough for Peterborough’s needs, there have been times in which there was a strain on the water system, such as last year when the Summer Street well had to be taken offline during repairs. As the state was in drought conditions, even with the town advising residents to restrict water usage, there was difficulty in meeting the demand, Barlett said.

The town has made attempts to find other water sources since 1982, when the South well, located on Sharon Road, was contaminated. The town even attempted to drill a well on Hunt Road, Bartlett said, but the water was too high in manganese and iron to be used as drinking water.

“Trying to find a new water source today is getting more and more difficult,” he said. “It’s finding the site that’s the biggest concern.”

Bartlett said drilling a single well would roughly cost about $1 million.

Highway garage

In a separate bond request this year, Peterborough plans to reconstruct a new highway department garage, on space currently available at the town’s wastewater treatment facilities.

The cost of the project has been estimated at $4 million.

“That’s an early conceptual cost estimate. The actual cost may be lower, but it would not be significantly lower,” Barlett said.

The town has acquired plans from recently constructed highway garages in Derry and Rochester as a model for their own construction, which saved the town on planning costs, Barlett said.

If the town approves the bond, construction on a new highway garage would begin in 2020, Bartlett said, and would be completed in the same year.

The current garage, located behind the Peterborough Community Center, would be demolished. The site is proposed to be the location of a new town fire station.

“This is a well-thought-out plan that’s been years in the making,” Miller said.

A public hearing on both bonds is scheduled to take place Tuesday, March 5, starting at 6:15 p.m. at the Peterborough Town House.

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


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