Brandon needs $2.5 million for water system repairs

BRANDON — The entity responsible for the best drinking water in Vermont will ask voters to approve a $2.5 million bond in March to pay for system-wide improvements. Brandon residents who tap into the water system would be responsible for paying back $1.7 million of the bond.
Brandon Fire District No. 1 Water Supervisor Ray Counter last week said that the bond will be used to replace 17,000 feet of undersized, broken or leaking pipe in the town’s fire protection water system. There are also myriad hydrants that are old and no longer meet state regulations, Counter said.
Some of the water mains and valves are 100 years old and make it impossible to shut off parts of the water system without shutting down large sections, including in the downtown.
“If we do these one project at a time, we’re in violation on some already,” Counter said, “and it would cost us significantly more money.”
In fact, according to Counter and project engineer Mark Youngstrom of Otter Creek Engineering, the district has qualified for a $756,000 federal grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The remaining $1.7 million would be paid for through the bond, if approved.
“Honestly, the reason we really want to go forward is because we are eligible for the grant,” Counter said. “If we do not receive the grant, we will not go forward with the project.”
The bond vote is set for Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the Brandon Fire Station. An information meeting on the bond will be held at the station on Monday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m.
The areas of specific water main replacement would include North Street (2,400 feet), Pearl Street (1,200 feet), Rossiter Street (990 feet), Union Street (4,400 feet), Prospect/East Seminary/River Streets (2,220 feet), Carver Street (1,620 feet), Champlain Street (2,340 feet), Church Street (1,200 feet), Corona Street (600 feet), Furnace Road and three important transmission valves on Route 73 at High Street and Wheeler Road.
Counter emphasized that no town tax money would be used to pay for the system upgrade, that the cost of the project would be entirely paid for by those who are served by the water system. Non-users would not be assessed any cost related to the project either.
However, since the fire district boundaries include the entire town, except for National Forest lands, all registered town of Brandon voters may cast ballots on the bond, regardless of whether they are served by the district’s water system.
Based on recent water main bids and anticipated financing, if approved, the bond is expected to cost each single family home, or the equivalent, approximately $50 per year.
In February 2012, Brandon’s drinking water received a Class II designation from the state, which honored its high quality. It was the first municipal drinking water system to receive such a designation in Vermont. Brandon’s water is not chlorinated, filtered or purified in any way.

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