Derry board moves forward with feasibility study for water/waste water systems

Planning Commission member Gail Mann discusses water problems in Londonderry.All photos by Bruce Frauman

By Bruce Frauman
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board on April 1 voted to move forward with an application for funding for a feasibility study on water supply and wastewater systems through the Agency of Natural Resources Engineering Planning Advance program.

Planning Commission member Gail Mann said a needs assessment of water and wastewater issues in the town is necessary to find out what the problems are and “whether or not impacting groundwater can affect our health and our drinking water. We already know we have impaired water quality.”

Mann also said increasing rain and runoff can overrun septic systems. She added that “testing our drinking water” is important and is part of the study.

Mann introduced Department of Environmental Conservation employees Lynnette Claudon, chief pollution control design engineer, and watershed coordinator Marie Levesque Caduto. Claudon said the program the board applies to can help fund a feasibility study and design and construction of water supply and/or wastewater systems with no loan repayment until construction begins. She said funding for feasibility studies is on a first-come first-served basis and offered several financing options.

From Left, Lynnette Claudon and Marie Caduto of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, address programs available to the town concerning water and sewer and water quality issues.

Caduto, whose division tests the chemical and biological quality of surface water, said e-coli levels coming into the town from Weston and leaving town toward Jamaica are very low.

But, she added, the stretch of the West River above and below the bridge in South Londonderry have had high levels of bacteria for “a very long time.”  Caduto said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may eventually tell the state to clean it up, though it is of very low priority compared to other impaired bodies of water in the state.

Caduto said she does not yet know where the bacteria are coming from, “it is most likely a lot of diffuse things coming into the river” and may have to do with individual septic systems as well as farms and animal pastures. She recommended that owners should get their wells checked for bacteria every year.

Board chair Jim Ameden expressed concern that the feasibility study would prompt the state to tell Londonderry that it had to begin construction of a water supply/waste water system right away.

Chair Jim Ameden said if construction is needed, people should be “prepared for that and understand that.” He expressed concern that the feasibility study would prompt the state to tell Londonderry that it had to begin construction right away.

But Caduto said she did not see anything that would trigger such a decision. Claudon said there is a very active Village Assistance Committee committed to making the work affordable.

Planning Commission member Dick Dale said his commission has said that if water and wastewater are indeed a problem, “then economic development (in Londonderry) may be very difficult to assure. But we don’t have any data.”

Claudon said she can help the Planning Commission write and review the application for the feasibility study before it comes back to the Select Board for approval.

Ameden seeks to improve road crew scheduling; engineer develops plans for Route 11 work

Ameden asked for help from the Select Board in his quest as Road Commissioner to have the road crew focus on being more productive and more efficient. He said he would like to see more scheduling of road work especially throughout the summer season.

Town administrator Shane O’Keefe says an engineering firm has developed plans to repair Route 11 between Londonderry and Chester.

And he said he would like to see dirt roads graded, ditches cleared and brush cut back in the areas where culverts are being replaced. Road Foreman Mathew Rawson was receptive to his ideas, Ameden said.

But he added, the road crew might need some help in using the computer to set up and update daily, weekly and seasonal schedules.  Ameden said published schedules would provide better awareness for the public. Ameden said he knows of three or four culverts that are ready for replacement and Mora said those would be good places to start the process.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said he received a letter dated March 26, 2019 from Patricia Shedd, project manager for the engineering firm of Fuss & O‘Neill, stating that they have developed final plans for VTrans for the work on the 14 miles of Route 11 from Londonderry to Chester.

Traffic Committee member Dick Dale asked the board if it would ask VTrans for a traffic safety study for Route 11, which the committee recommended. Board member George Mora said she will make some inquiries and get back got the board.

Dick Dale hopes the state conducts a traffic study along Route 11.

E-911 coordinator Kelly Pajala said her assistant, Bonnie Cobb, has been going through the town address by address comparing the known address with the preferred E-911 address and has been finding many discrepancies. Examples include different house numbers and people naming their driveways.

Pajala said Cobb has been making corrections in favor of the E-911 address so “fire trucks and ambulances can find you.” Starting in May, they will be renumbering condominiums at Magic Mountain according to E-911 standards and storefronts at the Mountain Marketplace, which currently all have the same E-911 number.

Dale, who is a member of the board of the Taconic and Green Regional School District, said the board was to discuss the problem of a lack of public pre-K education. He acknowledged that locally the Montessori School and the Little School offer high quality education to this age group. The T&G is trying to equalize opportunity and offer high quality education as well.  The current proposal is to offer pre-K education for all the district’s towns at Manchester Elementary-Middle School.

Traffic ordinance adopted

With no discussion, the board adopted the new Traffic and Parking Ordinance, which includes a list of all the stop signs in town. The public has 44 days to file a petition to hold a referendum vote on the new ordinance. If no petition is filed, the ordinance will go into effect 60 days from April 1.

Board member Bob Forbes will look into a small hydro project for the dam at Route 100 and Route 11.

The board also voted to re-appoint Jim Twitchell as Fire Warden while also asking him to appoint an assistant to also learn the job.

O’Keefe received approval from the board to sign a contract for managed computer services with TechVT Technology Consulting of Londonderry.

The board also approved O’Keefe’s recommendation to establish three-year terms of office ending on Sept. 30 of each year for the Development Review Board with a suggested set of transitional staggered terms for those currently on the DRB.

Finally, the board authorized member Bob Forbes to inquire about the potential for a hydro-electric generator being installed at the Williams Dam. This will include site visits by one or more hydro contractors to determine the feasibility of installing a small hydro plant given the condition of the gate and the dam.

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