HAMPSTEAD — “There is only so much a group can do when everyone around them brushes them off and says they need to deal with it themselves, sir.”
Pinkerton freshman Alexandrine Lacasse ends a two-page letter to Gov. Chris Sununu with those words, trying to drive home the need for help with Hampstead’s water problems.
Lacasse drafted the letter Oct. 30 and sent it to the governor’s office last week, in the hopes he will offer a solution for residents without access to water.
The 15-year-old initially wrote the appeal for a class at school. When she was asked to pen a letter to local legislators about an important topic, the issue of water in Hampstead was a natural selection for her.
“For some reason I just really took to water issues,” Lacasse said.
Lacasse’s friends and family have been plagued by water problems since the summer. At one point in Hampstead, 32 homes were without water.
“There was no drop in pressure, no warning. One day, they turned the tap and nothing came out,” Lacasse wrote.
Most of those homes have rebounded to some extent, except for the Main Street home of the Anthony family. Their well, the fourth on the property, has been dry since July.
The family has 750 hundred gallons of water delivered to their home twice a month, stored in a tank housed in their garage as well as their dry well, which they use as a cistern. The deliveries cost hundreds of dollars a month, making them unfeasible for the family to continue indefinitely.
Lacasse’s letter discusses how homes in Plaistow and Atkinson are also experiencing water issues with their private wells. The drying of these wells occurred in the same time period that the Hampstead Area Water Company ran their 72-hour draw tests on new wells that were installed in Atkinson and Hampstead this past summer, according to Lacasse.
“There is concern around those aware of the issues that the drought and steady overdraw of water by both neighbors and the water company will spread the drought to more and more houses in the Hampstead, Plaistow and Atkinson areas,” Lacasse wrote.
In her letter, Lacasse also addresses the Southern New Hampshire Interconnection Project, which could bring a water pipeline to the area. The connection would help other towns facing similar water woes, including Plaistow and Atkinson. Unfortunately the current plan bypasses Hampstead.
“Getting Route 121 reconsidered for the Southern Interconnection Project will provide all of the towns mentioned the public lines they need in the most critical parts of the town, as well as connecting them with less expenses,” Lacasse wrote. “The current route being considered completely veers around Hampstead, which will cost more than the route going down 121.”
Lacasse’s letter also mentions Hampstead’s recent population growth, as well as the likelihood of people avoiding buying a home in the area in the future because of water issues.
Deanna Anthony, the only resident on Main Street in Hampstead with all four of her wells on the property completely dry, said it means a lot to her that a high school student took this cause so close to heart.
“I don’t think we teach our youth enough about protecting our environment and they will eventually be the ones tasked with protecting it and cleaning up the mess we’ve made,” said Anthony.
Lacasse’s extremely proud mother, Jodi, said her daughter is “a force to be reckoned with,” and when Lacasse sets her mind to something, she just runs with it.
“Everything she does is like a ‘go big or go home’ attitude,” said Jodi. “She is sweet, caring and kind at the same time as being very mighty.”
According to Lacasse’s letter, the indecisiveness of a solution for these residents is pushing the progress of the pipeline project back, preventing residents from access to the water they need.
“Each day there are people that are waiting for a solution, and waiting for one to be presented fast,” wrote Lacasse, who ended the letter asking Sununu for his help.