Shaftsbury water project receives funding boost


SHAFTSBURY -- Shaftsbury water users are expected to save approximately $1,000 each over the next 20 years in paying off a bond used to upgrade water lines.

More than half

At Monday’s Select Board meeting, Rep. Alice Miller, D-Shaftsbury, shared the unexpected, good news that the town was approved to receive $217,000 in federal stimulus money to pay off more than half of the $425,000 bond administered through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

"It will pay for a little more than half of the bond, and taxpayers will pay less than half the amount that they would have had to pay," Miller said before the meeting.

The state-mandated upgrades, which began in the fall of 2008 and were completed last fall, replaced 4-inch water mains with about 2,600 feet of 8-inch water pipe in the village area of South Shaftsbury.

Water Board Chairwoman and Select Board member Karen Mellinger said the town did not expect to receive the funding because the project was originally low on a priority list.

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"When we first started the process we were not that optimistic," Mellinger said before the meeting. But, the upgrades were done in compliance with strict federal regulations that projects funded with stimulus money must comply with in case it was approved.

Mellinger said water projects that usually get top priorities for stimulus money are ones needed for schools and instances where there is danger of health hazards, but because other applicants were not ready to go ahead with work, Shaftsbury moved up the list, Mellinger said.

The pipe replacements were state mandated, but Mellinger said they were also needed to increase water pressure for safety reasons. If the fire department drew water from the fire hydrants with the 4-inch water mains, Mellinger said it would have been possible groundwater could be pulled into the system, contaminating the water supply.

The bond that was approved in November 2008 will be paid by the slightly more than 300 water users, and for these users the tax break will be considerable considering the difficult financial times.

"It’s terrific news because this is a very difficult time as we all know," Mellinger said.

The board thanked Miller and Water Department Superintendent Joe Herrmann for their work in securing the money and getting the work done in accordance to federal regulations.

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