By Lisa Loomis

The deadline to sign up for Waitsfield's municipal water system at reduced rates is next Tuesday, January 15.

Property owners in Waitsfield Village and Irasville have until next week to take advantage of pre-construction connection fees for the town's proposed water system, slated for construction in 2009.

As proposed the municipal water system will cost $7 million. The water 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.

Waitsfield's fire chief, Delbert Palmer, came to the select board this week to urge the board to extend the water lines up and around the Old County Road (a residential neighborhood with 47 homes that runs parallel and to the west of Route 100 from Kenyon's to the Mad River Valley Medical Center). Palmer wants the water available for firefighting purposes. The board is considering whether that request can be accommodated on the current timetable.

Property owners who agree to sign 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 proposed, the wastewater system will be available for Irasville, from its northern boundary (just north of Back to Action) to Fiddler's Green. 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.

That project will cost a total of $10.5 million and 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.

Town voters will be asked to approve a bond vote for both the water and wastewater systems at Town Meeting this March. With water estimated at $7 million and Phase 1 of wastewater at $5.5 million (18,000 gallons a day) and Phase 2 at $5 million (80,000-plus gallons a day), the total project cost is $17.5 million. The town has received a $3 million grant and is hopeful of more funds from a USDA rural development grant. If voters approve a bond for the entire project, it will result in a 1.5 cent increase on the tax rate. The operating costs of the system will be paid by users.

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.

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.