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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Waitsfield work on municipal water system continues

07/26/2007

By Lisa Loomis

Waitsfield is moving forward with the technical nuts and bolts of creating a municipal water system for the town, relying on a well drilled on Reed Road which is capable of supplying 150-plus gallons of water a minute.

The town select board met with John Kiernan of Phelps Engineering on July 23 to discuss details of how the water will get from the well to a storage tank on Bushnell Road and how it will be distributed from there to Waitsfield Village for individual distribution.

The water project is a half of a municipal water and sewage project that have been in the works for almost a decade. The board recently proposed downsizing the municipal sewage project from a projected 80,000 gallon per day capacity, to 18,000 gallon per day capacity.

The board held a public hearing on June 14 to discuss that proposal and heard from many of those present a preference for proceeding with the entire sewage project rather than such a small part of it.

COMPLETED A SURVEY

On the issue of water, the town recently completed a survey of the Reed Road area where it has drilled a well. The town's well is not too far from a well drilled by Virginian Houston in the mid-1990s. Houston tapped into a very large aquifer and established a wellhead protection area around her well, which the town will need to establish around its well.

The town's 150-foot-radius wellhead protection area will require that the town acquire land from Houston and another landowner, the family of Toby Richards. According to the survey, .43 of an acre will need to be acquired from Houston and .42 from Richard.

Before that can happen, however, the town is awaiting a legal ruling from the Vermont Supreme Court on whether the town needed to condemn land from Houston and Richards before drilling its well. Houston, through her attorney Paul Gillies, filed suit in Washington Superior Court arguing that condemnation had to happen prior to drilling the test wells.

DRILL FIRST

The town argued that it was necessary to drill first to see if there was adequate water before initiating the process of acquiring the land. The town prevailed and Houston appealed to the Supreme Court. On Houston's behalf, Gillies also filed a complaint in Superior Court seeking damages because the town drilled the well.

Oral arguments on the Supreme Court case were argued in May.

"The lower court ruled that it didn't matter when the town drilled, that they could go on her property and drill without so much as a by your leave," said Gillies.

HOUSTON PROPERTY

But, according to a new survey completed by the town which relies on Houston's property boundaries as defined in documents she supplied for permitting, the town's well is not on her property. The town's well is in the middle of the Reed Road and the road itself forms the boundary of the Richards property as well as the Houston property.

While those legal machinations continue, the town is working on logistics such as procuring easements to run a pipeline from the Reed Road to the Bushnell site and the easements to then run the water down the Tremblay Road. The town will undertake deep soil borings in the location proposed for the tank and along the proposed pipeline route.

Also under consideration is the question of where water distribution pipes will be installed in the village and whether the distribution lines will run from Tremblay Road to the village via Route 100 or Old County Road.

Contact Lisa Loomis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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