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Town OKs deal on water.

Byline: Brian Lee

SOUTHBRIDGE -- After five years of negotiations, Southbridge opened the floodgates this week to more than quadruple the volume of water it sends to Charlton.

Town councilors on Monday voted 8-0 to approve eventually selling up to 500,000 gallons of water per day to Charlton. The sale is spelled out in a draft 25-year contract that will now be sent to Charlton's Water-Sewer Commission and selectmen for their consideration.

The proposed pact calls for Southbridge to get a new permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to pump that much water to Charlton; for Southbridge to relinquish water infrastructure in Charlton to Charlton, a previous sticking point; and for Charlton to make various infrastructure improvements.

Under the draft contract, which was provided to the Telegram & Gazette Tuesday, Southbridge would provide an average daily flow of up to 500,000 gallons to Charlton customers, with the exception of Millennium Power Plant, after Charlton improves its system.

Before the improvements are made, Southbridge will send an average daily flow of water up to 200,000 gallons, the proposal said.

Currently, Charlton customers collectively use an average of about 100,000 gallons of water per day from Southbridge, and combined Charlton billings are approximately $250,000 a year, according to Southbridge acting public works Director Heather A. Blakeley.

Under terms of the proposal, Southbridge "releases title to and all ownership interest in the water infrastructure located in Charlton.'' This includes but is not limited to pipes, tanks, booster pumps and control valves.

Charlton accepts those items, as well as the distribution system for Southbridge to send water to the Massachusetts Turnpike, creating a single public water distribution system in Charlton, the contract said. Southbridge pumps water to Massachusetts Turnpike facilities in Charlton.

The contract also calls for Charlton at its sole cost and expense to build a pump station off Route 169 near Berry Corner Road; complete additional or replacement water line piping on Route 169; complete the installation of a tank mixer on Mass Ave; complete the installation of a tank mixer in the J. Hammond Road location; and complete the installation of a new waterline on H. Putnam Road from Stafford Street to Route 20.

Town Manager Kevin E. Paicos told councilors Southbridge would provide maintenance and repairs of the Charlton system even after giving up ownership.

That Charlton would own its system, he said, "does not diminish the fact that in the water rate is money that's being paid by their ratepayers to maintain both our system and their system.''

If Charlton agrees to the proposal, Mr. Paicos said, Southbridge would still be able to add a new large customer in Southbridge. He said no such request was imminent.

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Lee, Brian
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 29, 2015
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