Federal grant boosts Jaffrey, Peterborough water project

  • Town of Jaffrey FILE PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-transcript
Published: 8/5/2022 7:54:45 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 7:51:38 PM

A U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant of $2.3 million announced in late July will help fund a water treatment facility project aimed at boosting water supplies in Jaffrey and Peterborough.

Jaffrey Town Manager Jon Frederick said the $16.3 million water treatment facility, which will be located in Jaffrey is expected to be in operation by 2024. He added that the project was made more attractive from a financial perspective because of the collaboration between the two towns. 

“We’ve been looking for an alternate water source in this town for decades, and one cool part of [the project] is that there are two communities working on it together,” said Frederick. “From the funding standpoint, that made it attractive for funding agencies to see that it was worthy of funding.” 

In 2020, Jaffrey Town Meeting approved a $12.6 million project to develop the Cold Stone Springs site on the Sharon-Jaffrey town line in a partnership with Peterborough. Since the design phase, costs increased to the current $16.3 million.

Frederick said once agencies at the state level grasped the idea, it was up to the towns to sell it.

“Once we were able to sell this project, people latched on,” he said, adding that a lot of support at both the federal and state levels is what made the project possible. On top of the $2.3 million EDA grant, Frederick said support includes grants and loans from the New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund, Community Development Block Grants, the Northern Border Regional Commission, the American Rescue Plan Act and the State Revolving Fund.  

Frederick said the need for another water supply in Jaffrey is due to high demand and seasonal restrictions on existing wells, as well as contamination issues that arise. Well 1 on Turnpike Road was closed in April 2021 after exceeding limits for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), which can affect the liver, endocrine system and immune system, lead to increased cholesterol, increase the risk of certain types of cancer and lower a women’s chance of getting pregnant if consumed over many years.

“It’s nice to have redundancy because if you get into an issue with a well, which we’re having with our Turnpike well – with PFOS – that allows us to shut down or reduce the draw and address those situations,” he said.

Meeting water demand with only three wells is difficult, Frederick said. 

“That is the biggest piece during precarious times, such as times of drought,” he said, referring to the state’s ongoing drought this summer.  

Last month, Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker told the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript that the well project will do two important things – increase the town’s capacity to deliver water and create redundancy that could aid in times of drought, allowing Route 202 south to have water from two different directions.

Frederick agrees with Walker.

“The fire chief is right,” he said. “If you have a significant fire and that draws down the municipal supply, the more wells you have the better off you’re going to be.” 

Another big reason for the project, Frederick explained, was the water demand from MilliporeSigma, which he said was beyond the town’s capacity to provide water for during seasonal restrictions. 

In the announcement of the grant, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the EDA, stated she is “thrilled that the Economic Development Administration chose Jaffrey for this award, which is a boon to Cheshire County by spurring job creation, prioritizing water infrastructure updates and investing in the economic vitality of Monadnock communities.” 

Frederick expressed a sense of relief the project’s groundbreaking is within sight and explained there are still pieces -- such as fulfilling agency requirements for reporting – that need to be sorted out.

“It will remain that way for a while,” he said. “There’s  still a lot to juggle, but we’ll manage it.”

Reporting from Ashley Saari was used in this story. 


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