State Would Pay to Expand Town Water on Route 28 South

The Town of Derry will receive some unexpected help in expanding municipal water further down a portion of Route 28.

At the March 15 Town Council meeting, Michael Fowler, Director of Public Works, and Tom Carrier, Deputy Director, laid out a plan that would have the State pay for expanding town water to the Ryan’s Hill area.

Fowler reminded the Council and audience that the first phase of extending water and sewer up Route 28 South was completed in 2014 and brought the town amenities as far as the Robert Frost Farm and Berry Road area. The town spent $2.5 million on the project, with the eventual hope of expanding water and sewer all the way to the Windham town line. The expansion was part of the town’s Water System Master Plan.

Carrier said that the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) began a water sampling program in 2014. As part of that, DES tested water in 148 homes in the Ryan’s Hill area. Ten of the homes tested positive for MBTE, or Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether, a carcinogen that has been banned in New Hampshire since 2007. Six of the homes had a concentration of MBTE above the allowable limit, Carrier said.

Expanding the testing to Stark Road revealed another six with too much MBTE in their water.

The state has funds for mitigation, Carrier said, including $90 million from previous lawsuits and $236 million recently awarded by Exxon.

The town’s Capital Improvement Plan includes a water storage tank for Warner Hill Road, Carrier said, which would provide water from East Derry to the Route 28 South area.

The project would extend municipal water along Route 28 to Ryan’s Hill and include portions of Lawrence Road, Blunt Drive, Frost Road and Stark Road, and would also include a connection to the Woodlands Community Water System. The project would not include the expansion of town sewer systems.

DES is providing 80 percent of the funding, with a target date of Oct. 1 for completion, according to Carrier.

The project estimate is $3,005,000. The state will reimburse the town $2,491,000, leaving a balance of $514,000, to be paid by the Water Enterprise Fund.

Carrier said the Water Enterprise Fund has $584,000 in capital reserves, plus a FY 2016 approved appropriation of $220,000. The department will defer its plan to replace the Emerald Drive water main in order to take the state up on its offer, Carrier said.

There will be no impact to water rates, Carrier said.

However, properties connecting to the new town water lines would be required to pay connection fees estimated at $500,000 in revenue, plus $10,000 in future annual usage revenues.

Carrier said he and Fowler have spoken to American Excavating, the company that did the initial expansion down Route 28, and it is amenable to holding the line on pricing. “That means,” Carrier said, “that we’ll have the same price we had when they began the project in 2014.”

And the $500,000 in revenues will reimburse the town for most of the $514,000 coming from the Water Fund, he said.

The project will also open up 63 commercially-zoned parcels to municipal water, Carrier said.

Last year Route 28 South was rezoned to the General Commercial IV Zone, with the hopes of attracting better commercial development to the area and thus lowering the tax rate.

Carrier said, “It is a win-win and our responsibility to do this.”

A public hearing on the proposal will be held on April 5.