Md. urges Manchester to set water plan

January 06, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

State engineers met with Manchester officials yesterday, urging them to decide on a plan for replacing more than half the town's water supply.

The choices are to filter the spring water the town uses for 55 percent of its drinking water, or to build enough wells to replace it with ground water, which is less vulnerable to contamination from surface water. Most town and state officials prefer ground water.

Manchester is ahead of some small towns in meeting the state's February 1996 deadline for adopting stricter state and federal clean water guidelines because it commissioned a professional water study more than a year ago, said Barry O'Brien, an engineer with the state Department of the Environment.

"We want to work with the town," he said, adding that the deadline could be extended if the council has a plan but needs time to get the money or find the wells.

"We don't want the town to pick the wrong solution, only to meet the February deadline," he said.

The town likely will need the extension. The cost of finding water and drilling wells could be about $1 million, the study says. Acting Town Manager David Warner said the town probably would need to borrow to pay for it, though he is applying to the state for financial aid.

The water study, by Tatman & Lee Associates of Wilmington, Del., was commissioned by the town council mainly to look at infrastructure and other issues before updating the water system.

During the study, the consultants noted that slightly more than half the town's drinking water comes from three springs, which are more vulnerable to contamination because they receive runoff and surface water after heavy rains.

The rest of the water comes from wells, ground water that has been naturally filtered through soil.

In August, the state put the town on notice, citing the spring sources and the deadline to build a filtration system for the spring water or find other sources that are not vulnerable to surface water.

The water is not known to be contaminated, but is "under the influence of surface water," Mr. O'Brien said. Council members Douglas Myers, Kathryn Riley and James Singer attended the meeting. Mr. Myers said he hoped the council could discuss the next steps at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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