SALEM, N.H. — Salem is getting $12.65 million in grants related to infrastructure for the Southern New Hampshire Regional Water Interconnection Project.
Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting will open up with a public hearing about the grant funds. The board will decide whether to accept it.
Infrastructure and water rights were the biggest monetary concerns when paying for the project that will bring an additional 1.5 million gallons of water to the town each day.
Salem voters in March approved a $5.3 million bond to secure water rights for Salem. Then in April the Board of Selectmen ratified an agreement with the municipalities in southern New Hampshire that are part of the pipeline.
Infrastructure for the pipeline is being paid for by New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund and the MtBE trust fund. A majority — $8.65 million — is paid for by the first fund, and the remainder, $4 million, is being paid for by the MtBE trust fund.
Salem’s Department of Public Works is in charge of the water main work on Route 28 and Route 111 from the Derry water system through Windham and Salem. The department is also in charge of the water main work on Shannon Road to get water to the Hampstead Area Water Company (HAWK) system.
The trust funds paying for the infrastructure were established after the state sued multiple companies for contaminating groundwater with a gasoline additive called methyl tertiary butyl ether (MtBE). Multiple companies settled, creating the MtBE trust fund. ExxonMobile did not settle, and was found guilty and fined over $200 million, creating the Environmental Services Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.
Salem has faced a variety of water supply issues, including contamination from MtBE. Droughts as recent as 2017 have caused Salem town officials to ban residents from watering their lawns and washing their cars.
The process to join the pipeline began in 2018 when the Board of Selectmen committed to being part of the pipeline through southern New Hampshire that would provide residents with clean and accessible water. Residents tied into municipal water in Derry, Windham and Salem and those that receive water from HAWK in Atkinson and Plaistow residents will be receiving water from the pipeline.
Once the board approves accepting the grant it enters into an agreement with the state. Gov. Chris Sununu and the Executive Council are expected to sign the agreement at the end of the month. Once funding is secured construction can start.