Wednesday April 24, 2013

GUILFORD -- A technical difficulty again has delayed the debut of the town’s new water line, but officials say the problem will be fixed soon.

The water connection, which brings Brattleboro municipal water into Algiers Village, was substantially completed last year. However, Selectboard members now say a pressure-valve issue must be resolved before anyone can tap into the line.

"We’re asking people’s patience. It’s been a long process," Selectboard member Anne Rider said. "I think it’s not unanticipated that, when you’re doing a project of this size, there will be little things that need to be worked on."

The line, built with a mix of public and private funding, follows Route 5 south from Brattleboro into Algiers. Town voters approved up to $195,000 in additional borrowing to build two extensions reaching Guilford Volunteer Fire Department and Guilford Community Church.

Construction happened quickly and with few complications. But officials in November said there had been delays in obtaining specially fabricated parts for the pipeline’s meter vault, which monitors how much water is flowing into Guilford.

Anticipating that residents soon would be able to tap into the line, the town in January hosted a public meeting to explain that process.

But this week, Selectboard members said demands placed on the water system by the nearby Commonwealth Dairy have caused some unexpected issues in the Algiers pipeline.


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"There was a problem with the pressure going up and down. And the reason for that is, a few times a day, Commonwealth does a big draw-off of water, and so suddenly the pressure drops," Rider said.

"So we need to have something that evens that out for the rest of the users. And the pressure-release valve that would do that job wasn’t big enough," Rider added. "Rather than replacing that valve, they’re augmenting it with a second, smaller valve so that all those peaks and valleys will be dealt with. So nobody in the Village of Algiers will have any clue when Commonwealth is either using a lot of water or not."

That work is supposed to be finished by May 1, "which is good news for all of us," Rider said.

In addition to serving residential customers, the line is expected to provide water to new apartments under construction in Algiers and also will connect to the Guilford Country Store, which is scheduled to reopen soon.

"There are a number of people who are anxious to get water," Rider said.

Officials said the pressure-valve issue was a "design flaw" and, as such, it will not cost the town any additional money.

"It’s not going to come back on the taxpayers," Selectboard member Troy Revis said.

Town Administrator Katie Buckley said she still is drawing on federal grant money to pay bills from the water project. At some point, officials will have to use the voter-authorized bond to cover some of those costs.

"We’ll borrow only what we need," Rider said.

And Selectboard members now expect that they will need much less than had been approved by Guilford voters. That’s partly because project costs have been lower than anticipated.

"We also thought, it’s much better to ask them for too much and not use it than to ask them for too little and need more," Rider said. "I don’t know what we will end up using, but nowhere near $195,000."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.