Jaffrey and Peterborough move forward on collaborative well site project

  • The Jaffrey Select Board speaks with Peterborough Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett during its meeting Monday about moving forward with a collaborative effort to purchase a water supply to share between both towns. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Jaffrey Select Board speaks with Peterborough Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett during its meeting Monday about moving forward with a collaborative effort to purchase a water supply to share between both towns. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Jaffrey Select Board speaks with Peterborough Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett during its meeting Monday about moving forward with a collaborative effort to purchase a water supply to share between both towns. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/10/2019 5:50:40 PM

Jaffrey and Peterborough are moving forward on a partnership to share a water source.

During its meeting Monday, the Jaffrey Select Board met with Peterborough Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett to discuss sharing ownership of a three-well site located on land that sits in both Jaffrey and Sharon.

The site, known as Cold Stone Springs, has three wells that already have drawing permits from the state but has no infrastructure.

In May, Peterborough Town Meeting voters approved an $8.23 million project that would develop the Cold Stone Springs site into a new water source for Peterborough, with the expectation that portions of the project would be paid for through federal grants and a partnership with Jaffrey, which is also seeking a new water source.

Jaffrey has been interested in the site as a water source before. In 2004, when the site was owned by Barking Dog, Jaffrey explored an agreement to purchase water from the wells, but the proposal was rejected by voters.

Jaffrey has been looking for an additional water source for a long time, Select Board Chair Franklin Sterling said.

“If you looked at a map of all the places we’ve tested for wells, Jaffrey would look like a pincushion,” Sterling said. “We’re running on a tight supply.”

The three wells on the Cold Stone Springs property have already been permitted by the state Department of Environmental Services for large-scale water drawing, up to 288,000 gallons per day for each well, or a cap of 577,000 gallons per day for all three.

The water quality has been tested several times, including as recently as 2016, and is considered suitable drinking water.

The two towns have already entered a preliminary agreement to each pay for half of the capital costs of building the infrastructure at the Cold Stone Springs site needed to connect it to the town’s water systems.

Jaffrey plans to raise its portion of the funds through a warrant article in 2020. Sterling said he believes Jaffrey will be able to pay for a bond through its water revenues, without raising rates or relying on taxation.

The Jaffrey water rates are currently $11.36 for the first 1,000 gallons of water used, and then $1.39 per 100 gallons after that. The rates haven’t been raised in the last several years, Sterling said, but there has been an increase in water usage, meaning the water fund has surplus revenue.

Sterling said the prospect of a new water supply without an impact on the rates should lead to voter support in March.

“I don’t anticipate it being turned down. It was a good alternative back in 2004, and a better idea now that we have the prospect to own it,” Sterling said. “The pluses and benefits have only grown.”

Sterling said knowing the water quality on-site, as well as the amount of water that can be drawn from them, is a major plus.

“I’m pretty high on this project,” Sterling said. “I think it’ll work well for us.”

“It sounds feasible to me,” agreed Selectman Jack Belletete.

If Jaffrey voters approve the funds in March, Bartlett said the towns could move forward on purchasing the land as soon as July 1, 2020.

It would take between two and three years after the land is purchased to get a new water system online, which would include the construction of a water treatment center on-site.

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




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