Wednesday October 10, 2012

GUILFORD -- A new water line connecting Brattleboro and Algiers Village has been in the ground for more than a month, and officials say they’ve been getting inquiries about tapping into the pipe.

But the line is not yet ready for connections. Guilford officials expect to hold a public meeting when the time comes, possibly in the next few months.

"The water line is in the ground, but it’s not ‘live.’ People can’t connect yet," said Town Administrator Katie Buckley, who noted that installation of the line "happened extremely fast."

"The heavy construction happened way ahead of schedule," she said.

The line brings Brattleboro’s public water system into Guilford, and it was built with a mix of private and public funding. Guilford voters earlier this year approved up to $195,000 in borrowing to further extend the line to Guilford Volunteer Fire Department and Guilford Community Church.

The Guilford Selectboard on Monday approved an agreement with Brattleboro governing the line’s operations: Brattleboro owns and maintains the line, while Guilford handles billing.

Though there had been discussion at one point of a different arrangement, "It was decided that Brattleboro would be in a much better position to maintain it," Guilford Selectboard Chairman Dick Clark said.

Brattleboro has not yet voted on the pact. Clark and Buckley plan to attend a Brattleboro Selectboard meeting scheduled for Oct. 16.

While those operational details are finalized, crews also are putting finishing touches on the line. That includes metering and pressure regulation, officials said.

Also, Brattleboro-based Stevens & Associates is conducting a connection study.

"When we get that, it will tell us who can connect in a feasible way," Buckley said.

A public meeting will be scheduled when connections are available. Tapping into the line is voluntary, but officials expect plenty of demand.

"There are people who are extremely anxious to get connected because they have a very poor source of water," Selectboard member Anne Rider said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Selectboard members voted to upgrade the town office’s phones to an all-digital system. The current system was characterized as a "nightmare" that confuses callers and town officials alike.

"We’ve gotten tons of complaints," Buckley said. "And there’s been a lot of apologizing."

Selectboard members voted to combine funds from the town’s office equipment upgrade budget and office repair and maintenance budget to purchase a new phone system for about $2,200.

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