WILMINGTON -- A bond that will ensure the Wilmington Water District remains in compliance with new Environmental Protection Agency standards was passed on Tuesday night.
"It's good news for the district that voters approved this," said Engineer John Goodell, of SVE, who works on behalf of the district. "It's really a great opportunity to have this funding to help them with the project."
According to Selectboard member and Town Clerk Susie Haughwout, the bond passed 47 to 5. The approval enabled the district to move forward on plans to improve its filtration systems.
By Oct. 1, the district will have to comply with the EPA's long-term enhanced surface water treatment rule, also known as LT2, or it will face fines. The decision was to install a cartridge filtration system.
"The plan is to supplement their spring sources with an additional ground water source spring," said Goodell, describing the treatment. "In addition, there will also be two water line upgrades with this project as well."
The warning was sent to all 349 voters in town. Approximately 257 are users of the district's water system. Haughwout said there was better turnout for the vote than usual.
"When you go and turn your water on the sink, you don't think there's a commission behind that," she added. "I think they did pretty well getting those voters out."
Haughwout referred to a letter that district treasurer Laurie Boyd had written urging people to vote yes for the bond vote, which may have sparked more interest.
"The EPA is requiring that the district comply with the LT2 rule to reduce illness linked with a parasite. Because this is health related, the district has finally been able to receive financing from the state," stated the letter. "This financing with be at a very low or even a negative interest rate, which means much of the ‘loan' will be considered a grant and not have to be repaid."
Because the town had completed an income survey and was deemed a disadvantaged community, the district was able to secure such financing through the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. Access to such funds required voter approval.
According to Agency of Natural Resources, the fund program "provides low cost loan financing to municipal and privately owned public water systems for capital improvements that improve public health protection and facilitate compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act." The water district is its own municipality.
Goodell said voter approval was "very much a key step in the process."
"With that, now it's just completing the design and moving forward with permitting and construction in that order," he said.
The district will now file its construction loan application with the Drinking Water Supply Revolving Fund group.
According to Boyd's letter, the commissioners and Goodell "have made a decision on the best way to proceed, which should also lower some of the operating costs in the future. On top of that, there is a project to replace the 110 year old lines on Fairview Avenue. The engineering on that project was done many years ago but financing was not available."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.