DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

June 20, 2013

Derry councilors vote to explore water purchase

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — DERRY — Officials are pondering whether to purchase a privately owned water system.

Town councilors decided to look into the possibility of taking ownership of the Barkland Acres Association community water system.

The water system is owned by a group of 27 residences along Barkland, Birchwood and Brookview Drives.

In November, members of the Barkland Acres Association asked the town to take over the water system. The town has purchased private water systems before, but they must meet town codes and standards for water quality and system construction.

In Barkland’s case, the system is about 50 years old and includes approximately 2,000 feet of plastic piping, individual service valves, two bedrock wells and a pumping station located on a half-acre lot.

Barkland water owners pay a flat $400 fee per year for the water service, with annual revenue of $10,800.

If the town does not take ownership, residents could decide to sell their water system to another private utility such as Pennichuck Water Works.

Resident Mike Gill said he didn’t think Derry needed to keep taking over private water systems.

“I don’t see why I would want to get involved in taking over this system,” he said. “I don’t want any of my dollars and cents picking up the tab for Barkland Acres.”

Residents living in that community say the town would be better suited to handle the system as it’s often difficult for Barkland Acres owners to maintain the equipment.

“They would like to move away from the responsibilities of handling the water system themselves,” Birchwood Drive resident Don Waldron said.

Costs needed to take over the system would need to be assessed according to Deputy Public Works Director Tom Carrier. He said short-term costs to the town would include installing a generator and new hydrants, and other costs years down the road could include replacing aging water lines.

He said by doing a preliminary study, officials could get more information about the system before making a final decision.

“It’s hard to look forward to see what the water quality will be or treatment needed,” Carrier said. “You don’t know until you get into it.”

Councilors approved moving forward with a study. Officials will collect costs and water rate impacts as part of the study and will schedule a public hearing at a future meeting to discuss the proposed water deal.