By Jerome Reuter
The issue of clean drinking water in Londonderry continues to be of major concern and during the latest meeting of the Town Council, on Monday, Sept. 27, the possibility of a water district being established in Londonderry was discussed. The idea was brought up at a previous meeting.
Assistant Town Manager, Lisa Drabik, addressed the board to cite some examples of why the establishment of a water district would be a costly and ineffective idea. The primary concern from Drabik was Londonderry’s lack of a water supply.
“Unlike other communities we don’t have our own lake, or river or large pond or any surface water sources that would be adequate or large enough to draw water from and support a municipal water system.” She went on to mention that since Londonderry has none, water would have to come from an outside entity. Which would “negate any cost savings.”
Aside from Londonderry lacking a significant water source, Drabik also explained the large cost of physical equipment and the necessary people needed to sustain such an establishment. Aside from water lines, storage tanks, routine maintenance, and equipment to move the water, there would also be a need for storage facilities to accommodate each. The staff needed to keep a facility of this nature functioning on an efficient basis would not only require operating staff, but management personal and a licensed operations manager. These factors, on top of liability insurance would amount to loss of $350,000 per year.
However, member Joe Green “In order to make a decision, I need to see both sides, and I only see one right now…I don’t think we should do anything until there’s a DES study.” Green went on to suggest that the council discuss possible alternatives. Bob Kerry, an Environmental Engineer decided to share his opinions on the matter. He began by saying that the concept of a town water district “doesn’t really make sense.”
Kerry described a rebate system that would reimburse Londonderry residents who have spent money on water filtration systems for their houses, even though Kerry described this as a “short term solution.” Continuing a point made by Green earlier, Kerry also talked about a DES feasibility study that would be regional because Kerry stated that it’s still unknown where the water would come from. “It’s important to us, so we can see what direction we need to go…It’s a new process but there is progress being made. We have to be patient…I don’t know if we can accelerate that.”
The possibility of Pennichuck, a water supplier having lines installed was also discussed, but a point of contention was made about the feasibility and payment to do so.
Council member Deb Paul proposed another solution which involved the use of man-made reservoirs. “Many towns have created their own reservoirs to supply water to the town… there are towns bigger than us and smaller than us who have their own water department. I struggle with they can do it and we can’t.” Paul also stressed about the possible installment of water lines and how they would be paid for. “I don’t think we’re looking at the big picture with businesses and population and a quantity of good quality water. I’ve heard about extending pipelines, who’s paying for that? Is Pennichuck putting in those lines, or are we the tax payers putting them in for a for-profit company?”
Chairman John Farrell pointed out that the discussions that took place during the meeting were merely a brain storming session, and things would ultimately be decided by the ballot. Ferrell also asked town attorney Michael Malagutti if he could have legislation written up by Oct. 18, which he agreed to do.