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Raymond to weigh in on 2 bonds to protect, secure groundwater

Union Leader Correspondent

January 10. 2013 10:17PM

RAYMOND - Two bond articles dealing with securing and protecting groundwater for the community will come before voters in March.

The two articles were discussed and moved to the ballot by the Board of Selectmen on Monday night.

James Emery of Emery & Garrett Groundwater, Inc. of Meredith said Warrant Article 6 takes the town to the next step in securing future groundwater sources by asking voters to authorize a $500,000 bond for the purpose of locating, testing, permitting and/or constructing of new wells in town.

He said he would encourage the town to approve such a measure sooner rather than later, as future legislative decisions will affect future groundwater withdrawal.

"We can't predict what the limitations will be," Emery said.

Once the groundwater permit is in place, the town will be guaranteed whatever the permit allows.

The most favorable aquifer in town identified so far is located on the Thibeault Sand & Gravel property, off Route 27. The town has been embroiled in lawsuits with Thibeault for years. The most recent suit was filed by Thibeault against the town regarding a 2010 planning board decision and is still in court as the selectmen and Thibeault try to work out an agreement that will help secure town access to the aquifer.

"If the relationship loosens up in the next year or so, great, we'll pursue that site. If it doesn't, the warrant article allows us to explore all sites that are favorable," Public Works Director Patrick Bower said.

With the support of Emery & Garrett, they have looked at both sand and gravel sites across town, as well as bedrock sites. Work on locating sites dates back to 2001. A geophysical survey of potential sites in town was completed in March 2011 and identified 26 potential sites for test well drilling.

"We've done a lot of work to get to where we are right now, and this warrant article is just going to help us take that next step and get a well site permitted," Bower said.

He said if they continue on the road they are now, they will have a well site potentially on board before there is a major need.

"I think it's a great project, and I think we need to move forward," Selectman Wayne Welch said. "We need to be proactive and look to the future."

During the public hearing Monday night, resident John Beauvilliers said he does not doubt that the town should develop a new well site, but questioned whether there are any town-owned properties that would be more feasible.

"The Thibeault property . is not ours . it is some distance from existing water lines; wouldn't we be better off trying to drill into some bedrock and find a well site that would be more reasonable as far as cost," Beauvilliers asked.

Bower said the search has been narrowed to four or five sites that are on or near town-owned properties and are near the existing distribution system, and the warrant article allows the flexibility needed to explore those sites.

Resident Carolyn Matthews said her concern is the strong opposition in town to Thibeault operating a quarry on its property, and the proximity of that potential operation to the aquifer.

She is concerned that if Thibeault is linked with all the other potential sites, the warrant article may be rejected by voters in March.

Emery said all the sites were joined into one article because it is important for the town not to be tied down to any one site.

"This site becomes an option compared to all the other options available," Emery said.

He said if all the options come back to Thibeault, no more money will be spent until the issues between Thibeault and the town are resolved.

The second warrant article discussed asks voters to approve a $100,000 bond to investigate and define the limits of groundwater recharge areas in town.

Both warrant articles are to be paid through water revenues, not through general taxation. Both also require a three-fifths majority to pass.

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