By Lisa Loomis

Forty-eight people, representing over 25 percent of the potential users of a municipal water supply for Waitsfield, signed up for the system by the January 15 deadline.

Another six people signed up for the town's municipal wastewater system. People can sign up for that system until January 30.

The town will bring a bond vote forward at Town Meeting, seeking up to $7 million for the water system and $10.5 million for the septic system. If both systems are fully funded, the impact will be 1.5 cents on the tax rate. System users will pay hook-up fees and usage fees based on gallons of water use/bedrooms in the house. As proposed, the system measures 'equivalent residential units' roughly, a three bedroom, two bath house.

There are different connection fees for users, based on when they sign up. No money needs to be paid until after the bond vote. Monies that have been paid in will be held in an interest-bearing account for system users, should the bond fail.

Even though the first deadline for the water system has passed, people can still commit to either the water or wastewater system.

"Being able to show that there are a significant number of people who support the projects and are willing to commit to hooking on will help us in our USDA Rural Development grant application and other sources of potential funding.  People were not required to include the fee with their forms, but many did.  This will also strengthen our funding applications," explained Valerie Capels, town administrator.

Within the proposed service area for the water and wastewater systems, there are 313.13 ERUs. To date 26.1 percent of possible water users have signed on and 4.31 percent of wastewater users have signed on.

The water for the municipal system will come from a well in the right of way by the Reed Road and will run via pipeline down Tremblay Road and along Route 100 to Waitsfield Village and Irasville and then to Fiddler's Green and two properties to the south.

At the request of Waitsfield's Fire Chief Delbert Palmer, the select board has agreed to begin the process of extending the water lines up and around the Old County Road for fire protection but will proceed with the system as proposed right now (without water pipes in that neighborhood).

The town has also heard from residents who have concerns about the fact that the proposed service area for the wastewater system does not include the village area. Its slated service area is Irasville, from just north of the Carroll Road to just south of Fiddler's Green driveway.

Capels said that the town is actively pursuing the possibility of a village system that is separate from the Irasville system and which uses other town land for disposal. The Irasville system will be pumped to the Munn site across from the Valley Professional Center where wastewater will be treated and disposed on site at 80,000-plus gallons a day, or be pumped to a leach field on site at 18,000 gallons a day.

Property owners who signed up by the January 15 deadline will pay $1,000 per equalized residential unit (ERU) to connect. Those who sign up between January 15 and March 4 will pay $1,500 per ERU to connect and those who pay between March 4 and construction will pay $2,000 per ERU.

There is a January 30 deadline for property owners in Irasville to sign up for pre-construction prices for the town's municipal wastewater system. As with water, early commitments mean lower costs. Property owners who commit by January 30 will pay $4,000 per ERU to connect. Those who pay after January 30 will pay $5,000 per ERU.

The wastewater project may be broken into two phases. Phase 1 would install piping from Irasville south along Route 100 to the Munn field where the wastewater will either be disposed of in a traditional mound system (which can handle 18,000 gallons per day) or in a treatment facility (which can handle upwards of 80,000 gallons a day).  The pipes for this project will be installed when the water pipes are installed and when Route 100 is already being worked on for a sidewalk project and road repaving project.

The bond request which will appear before voters in March will be made up of three articles. The first will ask voters to approve bonding for up to $7 million for the water project. The second article will ask voters to approve up to $5.5 million for installing the wastewater pipes, and if they have voted 'yes' on that article, they can proceed to article 3 and vote on whether to bond for the final $5 million to construct the treatment plant. The town has received a $3 million grant and is hopeful of more funds from a USDA rural development grant.

In advance of the Town Meeting bond votes, the select board will hold two more public hearings to explain the projects, the costs, the timing and any other questions that voters may raise. Those hearings are slated for February 20 and 25.