EPPING — The state has sent a letter to local water and sewer commissioners expressing "major concern" about the town's municipal water supply and the need to find more sources to meet demand.
In a letter dated Aug. 30, the state Department of Environmental Services said it's concerned that the water being produced by the three wells at Hoar Pond "is or may be degrading over time under their current pattern of use."
The town pumps water from the three wells at Hoar Pond and a fourth on Fremont Road.
Groundwater level monitoring data collected from Hoar Pond Well No. 3 and submitted to the state on Aug. 2 "indicated that the existing sources may not be capable of providing their projected production volumes and that the need for additional supply may be more critical," the letter said.
Some residents discovered that their water turned brown for a time last week, but when asked about the reason behind the problem, Dennis Koch, the town's public works coordinator, said the cause wasn't known.
"It's only an example of the trouble coming," Selectman James McGeough said Friday.
Water woes have plagued Epping for years and more concerns have been raised in recent years with the rapid expansion of businesses, including restaurants and other retailers, on Route 125.
The town's water and sewer commissioners and other local officials have urged voters to approve proposals to buy 60 acres with several wells already installed on property behind Walmart.
But for the third time, voters last March defeated a $2.5 million plan to buy the property. The same proposal was rejected in 2010 and 2011.
Henry DeBoer, a water and sewer commissioner, has said the property has the potential to produce 588,000 gallons of water a day and would meet the town's water needs for the next 40 to 50 years.
Koch said commissioners plan to ask voters in March to consider the proposal once again.
"We think it's our best option," Koch said.
McGeough said selectmen haven't taken a vote on whether to back the plan again, but he will support it and believes board members will as well.
Officials from the Department of Environmental Services plan to meet with water and sewer commissioners on Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, the state has recommended that the town consider other alternatives to reduce the demand on the Hoar Pond wells or change their current use pattern. According to DES, changes could include expanding the town's efforts to limit discretionary water use across the system, particularly during summer months; implement a "relatively aggressive" well maintenance and rehabilitation program for the wells; or find new water sources to allow the town to alternate the use of the Hoar Pond wells with those other sources to give some time for the water level to recover.