City’s Water Treatment Upgrade Approval Faces Delay

Haverhill Water Treatment Plant.

council_agendaA planned Haverhill City Council hearing for a permit to proceed with a planned $37.5 million upgrade of the city’s drinking water treatment plant is expected to be postponed until Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Deputy Public Works Director Robert E. Ward wrote the request to councilors and City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas Thursday, following the release of Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

“The additional time is needed to provide the required 10-day notification to abutters,” Ward said.

City Councilor Andy Vargas.

City Councilor Andy Vargas.

The project contributes to, what City Councilor Andy Vargas said last October, will be a 50 percent increase in residents’ water rates.

“One of the main concerns I had was the fact that within the next five years, our water rates are scheduled to go up by 50 percent. Right?” Vargas said, during approval of plans to tap wells below the Merrimack River for additional water.

A public hearing was scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 3 on Ward’s petition for a special permit to allow construction or “land disturbing activity or excavation” within 500 feet of a city reservoir. Councilors, on June 7, unanimously approved a $37,484,000 loan authorization for, as WHAV reported in May, “end-to-end” engineering and construction improvements, including expanded capacity, at the 37-year-old, 131 Amesbury Road plant.

The special permit request is subject to review and recommendation, such as conditions, by the Conservation Commission. If the council grants the special permit, the treatment plant project plans would advance to a site review process through the City’s Site Plan Review Committee. It is made up of representatives from “various city departments.”

“The Conservation Commission’s order includes extensive measures to protect Kenoza Lake during construction and in perpetuity after construction,” Ward said. “Based on the comprehensive review by the Conservation Commission, the measures required… and design plan modifications required by the Commission we believe the project, as it is currently designed, provides a level of protection for Kenoza Lake that meets or exceeds the purpose and intent of (Watershed Protection Overlay District ordinance).”

As WHAV reported earlier project funding, through the Massachusetts Clean Water Fund, would be used for “an entire upgrade” of the drinking water plant, which first went online in 1979. Water rates are expected to increase in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, toward loan payments.  In May, Ward said loan funds would not be applied toward either wastewater facility upgrades or Merrimack River bank remediation under a consent decree with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The City Council meets Tuesday, at 7 p.m., in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

One thought on “City’s Water Treatment Upgrade Approval Faces Delay

  1. Anyone know how much $$$ we are up to now for this project ? A couple years ago, some were concerned that this project could go as high as $75 million, maybe more by the time we are finished complying with EPA federal unfunded mandates.

    Just like no child left behind: Mandate we do something but make the taxpayers pay for it, whether they agree with it or not. Back in the 90’s, President Clinton put forth his 100k cops on the street. Yup, he put them out there then funding was educed, then was eliminated after 3 years. Then what ?? You force cities and towns to either raise taxes to make up for the funding loss or lay off cops !! Plus, if you raise taxes to fund the cops, you ALSO have to assume all the liabilities of said positions like pensions, insurances , ect. Time to bring all that money back to the states.