City water district’s $5M bond vote on tap

PANTON — Vergennes-Panton Water District residents will vote on Wednesday on whether to support a $5.1 million proposal to upgrade the district’s 37-year-old Adams Ferry Road water treatment plant in Panton.
The project will replace all the aging plant’s 30-plus-year-old pumps and filters; replace all its electrical, heating and ventilation systems; build a new control room and upgrade its equipment; improve chemical treatment equipment; and improve chemical storage areas.
District officials and engineers who have studied the lakeside plant say all the work is badly needed.
Vergennes and Panton residents will cast their ballots on Aug. 4 at the water district office on Canal Street in Vergennes. The office will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. to accommodate voters.
District officials says paying a bond for the project could more than double rates for a typical household, but that user fees will remain below the state average.
Currently, district officials said a typical single family household using Vergennes-Panton water pays about $174 a year, less than half the state annual average of about $400 for municipal water.
District officials have estimated the new rate for such a household, including payments on a bond to pay for the project, would be about $368 per year, or about $1 a day.
The district board and engineers from East Middlebury’s Otter Creek engineering considered other alternatives to the complete upgrade within the existing footprint of the lakeside facility. Those included expanding the plant with an addition or building a new, separate treatment facility and using the old plant just as a pumping station.
They also looked at dealing with individual upgrades separately over the years and making improvements selectively, before deciding it would be cheaper in the long run to do all the needed work at one time. According to engineer Peter DeGraff of Otter Creek, the other alternatives would all have added between $500,000 to $1.25 million to the cost.
Engineers and the board expect the project, which is being proposed after more than a year of study, will allow the plant to function effectively for up to another 40 years.
The plant will remain operational during the project if voters back the plan, which also calls for a new back-up generator for a facility that has produced up to 990,000 gallons a day of drinkable water.

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