PLAISTOW — After decades of planning, Plaistow residents are closer to getting safe drinkable water.
This week the town broke ground on the Sweet Hill Road water tank project and set the rates for its new public water utility.
Both are part of the Southern New Hampshire Regional Water Pipeline project, which will bring drinkable water from Manchester to Derry, Windham, Salem, Atkinson, Hampstead and Plaistow.
The pipeline will bring water to people who have had their private wells contaminated with toxic chemicals like MtBE, or methyl tert-butyl ether. The project is being paid for with state money from a series of lawsuits against gasoline companies that were found responsible for MtBE contamination.
Property owners with MtBE contamination found in their wells are going to be connected to the water system for free because of state funding. Others in town can hook up to the system, but have to pay their own construction and water rights fees.
Everyone will still get quarterly water bills dependent on the reading of their meters.
"We as a town developed and initiated a vision that would have a major impact on our community, not then, but generations later," said state Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, at the groundbreaking on Monday, referring to the creation and expansion of the fire suppression system that is a fundamental part to the project.
"Townspeople showed their continued faith in the plan through their continued support of Town Meeting warrant articles that appropriated monies so that we could attract and maintain great businesses," Major said. "Each of you and those who came before you have supported this vision as we persevere to provide safe potable water and a fire suppression system for Plaistow."
Later that day, Plaistow Selectmen approved the town's first water rates, which will translate to quarterly water bills of about $157 for a typical single-family household that uses 150 gallons of water per day.
Selectmen approved a $63 quarterly flat fee, which will cover meters, readings and maintenance. They also approved a $7 fee for every 1,000 gallons of water used.
To help increase interest and make water more accessible to property owners, Selectmen also approved incentive discounts for costs associated with hooking up a home or other building up to the pipeline.
There will be a 50% discount for residential property owners and a 25% discount for commercial property owners. Town officials are also looking at financing options to help Plaistow residents afford the installation.
More information about the application process to buy into the water system will be announced at the August water meeting.