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September 12, 2013

Plaistow seeks solutions to water woes

Experts seek solution to Plaistow's problems

PLAISTOW — For 40 years, the town has wanted a public water system. Yesterday, officials tried a new approach to find a solution.

The town hosted a water symposium yesterday at Town Hall. More than 40 experts, business owners, public officials and residents discussed the current water situation in town and how to find the best way to fix it.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to pull together such a great group of technical resources and professionals to broaden this conversation,” Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said.

Stephen Roy of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Drinking Water & Groundwater Bureau painted a bleak picture of the current state of the water supply in Plaistow.

“Bedrock, which is prevalent throughout town, is the local water supply for the majority of residents,” Roy said. “But it appears to be low-yielding.”

He also said relying on current wells, which provide water for 77 percent of Plaistow residents, is a dicey proposition.

“As wells age, you will encounter a problem,” Roy said. “After many years of use, they significantly decay in yield. There is a mechanical issue when it comes to residents relying on wells.”

While finding a water supply is an issue, the town also has problems with groundwater contaminants. There have been two major sources which have contaminated the town’s aquifer, the Beede Superfund site and the former Lido gas station.

The Beede Group, the companies who were deemed responsible for cleaning up thousands of gallons of contaminants at the site off Main Street, just started removing contaminated soil this year.

The state has spent $2.6 million removing contamination from the former gas station on Plaistow Road.

The town has spent several decades trying to find solutions to the water problem. In 1973, a comprehensive feasibility study was done to look at potential options. At this year’s Town Meeting, a warrant article to fund a $30,000 feasibility study failed by just 12 votes. The study would have looked at a potential conversion of the town’s fire protection system into a potable water system.

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