HAMPSTEAD - Up here, news of water -- or the potential lack of it -- is about as a common as an early morning backup along Route 30.
Over the years, there have been building moratoriums and citizen protests because of water. The town is in the midst of almost doubling its capacity to pump water to hundreds of new homes expected to be built here in the next several years.
Indeed, developers and their projects have been delayed -- or even turned down -- because of water.
And just about every time there's a meeting of the Town Council, water is sure to be a topic of conversation.
The latest such problem in this rapidly growing town of nearly 2,700 is a mile-long pipeline that will eventually supply water to the $5.4 million Spring Garden Elementary School.
That is, if it ever gets built.
The pipeline, considered a necessity by town officials for nearly two years, will replace the temporary one bringing water out to the 20-acre school site on Boxwood Drive.
The 90,000-square-foot school is more than a year behind schedule itself, but town officials as recently as the middle of July promised the pipeline would be designed, constructed, installed and in use by the end of this month.
As of late yesterday, the town had not solicited a single bid on the project.
To be sure, the lack of the water main has yet to delay the school's construction. But, should its completion linger into late November or December, school and town officials concede that potentially disruptive delays might result.
"Let's put it this way," said Town Manager John A. Riley, "If they wanted to open the school tomorrow, there would be a real problem."
A real problem that Lester P. Surber, the district supervisor of school facilities and planning, would rather not see develop.
"We've been in contact with them," he said earlier this week. "The delay in the pipeline has not affected the school so far."
Surber said in July that the town's end-of-September deadline was unrealistic.
But Riley had hoped that the pipeline, with an estimated $264,000 price tag, would have been completed by now.
And it would have, he said, if complications with the legal definition of the 16-foot-wide pipeline right of way hadn't come up.
"We've been having problems with that," he said. "But I think they're all worked out now."
The planned pipeline -- which would run under Route 30 and along railroad tracks -- has been drawn, designed and is ready for a contractor as soon as the town finds one.
That should be fairly soon, Riley promised. Once a contractor is signed up in the next couple of weeks, the pipeline should be transporting water to the school site by the end of November, Riley said.
The pipeline is important in water- and fire-system testing, and any hang-up in that testing could delay the school's opening.
School officials say Spring Garden Elementary should be open to students by the beginning of school next year. Actual completion of the building is slated for January or February 1991.
Hampstead's current elementary school on Shiloh Road is about 200 students over capacity, opening earlier this month with nearly 900 students. Eight classrooms are now housed in portable buildings.
While Spring Garden will open with almost 600 students, it should alleviate the overcrowding in the Shiloh Road building, school officials said.
The Spring Garden facility is one of six major school construction or renovation projects in the county. The projects are budgeted at more than $28 million.