HAMPSTEAD — Dozens of area residents were at the Hampstead Middle School Cafeteria to ask questions and listen to the new permit application for Hampstead Area Water Company’s newest well that will provide up to 120 gallons per minute to the company’s utility system. Representatives from the Department of Environmental Services and a hydrologist hired by the company answered questions about the process to certify the company’s third well in town that will be in the Angle Pond watershed.
As the meeting wore on, the burning question that was shouted out multiple times was: Where is the water from the well going?
“We are at the frustrated stage where (HAWC) knows what it's doing, but we are left in the dust,” said Deanna Anthony, citing that it is a privately-owned company. “We deserve to know what’s happening with our water.”
Anthony, a Hampstead resident and founder of the Hampstead Water Advocates group, observed frustration in the room as people left after the question and answer portion and only one woman gave a public comment.
“But, it’s a good sign of what’s to come,” Anthony said, acknowledging that many towns people, including herself, didn't know about water management until personal wells in the town ran dry. “People asked questions, people showed up, it shows that people are becoming informed and proactive residents.”
The public hearing was held at the town's request, which had the opportunity to request a meeting when the preliminary application for the well was introduced in September 2018, according to Stephen Roy, manager of the state’s Groundwater Permitting technical group.
Anthony explained the town didn’t know it had the ability to do so. Now, with area residents more aware of how water resources are utilized, people are more informed she said.
And they are scared, she added.
“What is the intention of this well?” Anthony asked. “We already have problems in town because we have a large well that has proven to have adverse effects on people, so there is fear.”
Anthony was talking about HAWC’s Kent Farm, which the Department of Environmental Services cited as the reason why the wells at Anthony’s home and others in town went dry, according to a study released in April.
Residents honed in on the question: Where will the water be going? Would the water be leaving town? Or would it be sold back to people who have lost their well water?
Representatives from the state, nor the hydrologist hired by HAWC were able to answer those questions.
Roy explained that water utilities, like HAWC, are supposed to have plans for 20 years in the future to ensure their customers have water. He did not know the specifics about HAWC’s plan, but added that the company’s current wells are producing at less than what they are certified for because of mineral buildup.
Resident Barbara McCaffrey questioned the state process for companies to apply for the permit. She said she didn’t realize earlier in the process what was being asked of her.
“I’m OK with purchasing water, but I don’t want to have to buy it because HAWC took it,” McCaffrey said. She is worried about how the new well, once online, will effect her well, which is in the potentially affected area.
Many people in the room asked if a HAWC representative was in the room to answer the question.
Charlie Lanza, the general manager of HAWC, stood up after a moment to address the questions. He went into the history of a few expansions for HAWC that were based on the need to provide clean water to Hampstead residents.
“So you are not planning to use Angle Pond three to extend any lines in Hampstead to the affected areas in town?” a man from the crowd asked.
“So we don’t have any planned expansion based on Angle Pond three,” Lanza said.
Lanza would not comment further on what the well would be used for when asked after the meeting.
The Department of Environmental Services is accepting comment on the well application through Sept. 8 — 45 day after the public hearing.
People who wish to contact the Department of Environmental Services can contact Andrew Koff at firstname.lastname@example.org.