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Bristol seeks $1.1 million for new water main

BRISTOL — The 110-year-old water main along West Street in Bristol is overdue for replacement, according to selectboard members and engineers they hired.
At a public hearing on Monday evening, they explained why Bristol residents should approve a $1,115,020 bond to replace a large portion of the West Street line and extend the town water system to Lovers Lane. A vote by Australian ballot will be held May 10.
“The West Street line is in very poor condition,” said Jamie Simpson of Green Mountain Engineering, who presented plans for the system replacement and extension. “It has given the town many issues as far as leaks and breaks and is due for an upgrade as it was installed around 1905. So it’s six-inch cast iron and it’s got some holes in it and some issues.”
Green Mountain Engineering was hired by the town in December 2013 to evaluate and prioritize the town’s water distribution lines most in need of replacement. The study looked at age, condition, population served and fire prevention, among other factors. The study “identified West Street as one of the highest-ranking projects for consideration for improvement due to leaks, breakages and overall poor condition.”
At Monday’s meeting in Holley Hall, Selectman John “Peeker” Heffernan described one repair of a “radial crack” on the West Street line as “losing about 100 gallons a minute.”
“If we’re pumping water into the ground, it’s a resource and dollars at the same time,” added Town Administrator Therese Kirby.
Selectman Joel Bouvier described the recent findings of a free study by a firm called 64seconds (a Massachusetts company that makes utility management software) showing that leaks and fractures along the West Street line cause the town to lose hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day.
“The last report we got from 64seconds way back last spring was we’re pumping somewhere around 600,000 gallons a day and we’re selling about 350,000 to 400,000 gallons,” said Bouvier. “We’re losing 200,000 gallons or so into the ground.”
According Kirby, Bristol would likely not have to pay the entire $1.1 million for the project, but it does have to bond for the entire sum. That is because Bristol is eligible for a federal rural development grant of up to 45 percent of the cost. That, along with other funding sources, would leave Bristol responsible for $585,156.
According to an information sheet mailed to residents, around 56 percent of the town’s share of the cost would be covered by taxpayers, the other 44 percent would be paid by water department user fees.
“It’s kind of crazy in a way, but we have to have a positive bond vote first and then get the package,” Kirby said. “Obviously, if (the cost is) way off from what we think, the selectboard will have to regroup.”
The Bristol water system would be upgraded and expanded in three parts, Simpson explained. Part one would be to replace the old water main along West Street, from Airport Drive to Maple Street. The six-inch cast iron pipe would be replaced with an eight-inch main made of ductile iron, now the industry standard. Simpson said that according to GME’s study, eight-inch pipe would be adequate to meet current use and future expansion.
The second part of the project would encompass stormwater upgrades along the same West Street stretch. Simpson explained that the Agency of Transportation is due to resurface West Street in around 2018 and that it would make more sense for the town to replace the water main and upgrade the stormwater system before VTrans resurfaces the roads, so that “new pavement wouldn’t have to be ruined and then repurchased.”
Simpson described the street as “terribly rutted, which causes pools and puddles of water.” The stormwater upgrades would include seven or eight new underground structures, he said, connected by drainage pipe leading to existing outfalls. Simpson said that no new outfalls would be created for the stormwater upgrade.
The stormwater upgrades also will make the system compliant with the Vermont Clean Water Act, also known as Act 64, which became law last summer.
The third part of the project would extend the town water system to Lovers Lane so that town land directly behind the new fire station could be developed for a proposed Bristol business park. In his presentation, Simpson explained that in order to build the business park the town, water line must be extended to Lovers Lane because the parcel slated for business park development lies within the source protection area for the well that currently serves the Woodland Apartments. The Woodland Apartments well protection area extends all the way up the hill “almost up into the fire station’s parcel,” said Simpson.
The new eight-inch line, said Simpson, would also be able to supply further development along Lover’s Lane.
When queried by residents at Monday’s meeting, Heffernan emphasized that the much-needed replacement of the West Street main is separate from the construction of the new fire station on West Street.
“I want to make it clear that the upgrade to the West Street waterline isn’t due to the fact that the new fire station is there. That was a planned upgrade because the line is old and because we’ve been having problems. I know there’s been some concern that we put the fire station in and we had to upgrade the line because we didn’t take into consideration the size, and that is not the case,” Heffernan said.
The selectboard will hold a second hearing on the proposed repairs and expansion of the town water system on Monday, May 2, at 7 p.m. at the town offices in Holley Hall.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].

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