02/18/2010

By Lisa Loomis

Waitsfield has received a state Act 250 permit for its municipal water system.

The permit was issued by the District 5 Environmental Commission earlier this month and spells out the conditions which the town must meet to build the $7.6 million water project. Town engineers have the project approximately 90 percent engineered and a municipal water task force is working with potential customers on how to sign up for the system.

The system will serve Waitsfield and Irasville with water that comes from a well drilled in the right of way off Reed Road. The water will be gravity pumped via pipeline to a 400,000-gallon storage tank off Bushnell Road. The project involves 18,400 linear feet of water piping and some 9000 linear feet of distribution mains.

THREE YEARS

The Act 250 permit gives Waitsfield three years to complete the project and includes a variety of other conditions related to precautions to be taken during construction. Public hearings on the project were re-opened briefly last month to hear testimony from Emily von Trapp Catlin and Bernie von Trapp, both of whom are adjoiners on Bushnell Road where the water storage facility will be located. At that hearing, Waitsfield presented a revision in its plans for bringing the water pipes into the holding tank. The District 5 commission accepted the town's revision.

The permit notes that the water system is critical to Waitsfield and Irasville as the town's designation of that area as a proposed growth center. The water system will provide water for up to 442 equivalent residential units (ERUs), although that will not represent 442 ERUs of new growth but rather existing development in the service area, plus an estimation that 50 percent of growth in Waitsfield will occur in that designated growth area.

OFFSET COSTS

The town has received $3.014 million in loans and grants to offset the cost of the system and the USDA Rural Development Agency has given the town additional time to sign up users for the system. The town needs 220 ERU (equivalent residential users, or a three bedroom home) to make the system operational financially, and has almost 200 so far. The town plans to put the project out to bid this summer.

The town's municipal water task force is working with local residents and businesses on the details of signing onto the system, including connection fees and user rates. The project will go out to bid this spring with construction slated to begin this summer or fall. Ideally, construction of the project will dovetail with the construction of a sidewalk through Waitsfield and Irasville. VTrans' plans to repave Route 100 from Waitsfield to Warren have been pushed out a year to accommodate the water and sidewalk projects.

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