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Half a million in Stimulus funds added to Franconia water project

May 06, 2009
FRANCONIA—The town just received word it was receiving $500,000 in federal Stimulus funds, making possible another portion of the overhaul of the town's water system this year.

Last week town officials received word the town was receiving the money that would be used in addition to the $3,750,000 slated for the project already. Of that money already slated for the project, $1.5 million will come from a grant, the remaining from a low interest loan from Rural Development at a rate of 2.75 percent for 30 years.

It will be used for the installation of new transmission lines between the Gale well and the central pumping station, according to Water Committee Member Ned Densmore.

The project, approved by the voters during Town Meeting in March, will rebuild much of the water system. It will replace the current 140,000-gallon water storage tanks with a 350,000-gallon tank. There are also a number of two-inch water lines that need to be replaced, Densmore said.

"With higher pressure from the new tank it would put a lot of strain on them," Densmore said.

The project has been in the works for years, though the most recent impetus came from a 2007 report by the Department of Environmental Services listing the system's deficiencies. One of the deficiencies is the loss of water in the system that escapes before it gets to homes or businesses. Estimates by engineers put the loss at around 50 percent of water, when they said it should be no more than 10 percent.

In advance of the replacement of the water system, water meters had to be installed on all residences and businesses, something that is almost complete.

There remains another $1.5 million in updates to the system that will remain to be done after the current project, Densmore said. It won't be done all at once, he said, but will be done as money becomes available. There are a list of priorities for the water system and the water transmission lines were next on the list of priorities, he said. He added that it might be five or 10 years before the other priorities start to get addressed but the issues that put the system on the verge of failure are being taken care of.

"We were fortunate to get the stimulus money, we applied right off the bat and let the governor's office and Sen. [Judd] Gregg's office know right [off] we were looking for funds," Densmore said.

Town Administrative Assistant Sally Small said Monday that the town's architectural firm, Stantec, should be done with engineering and design work by July. The project is expected to go out to bid in August and construction work will begin in September and continue through November.

"It appears the project is on course," she said.

Densmore noted some work, such as work on the water tank, could continue over the winter, with the remainder of the work to be done the following spring.

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