SALEM — Voters in Salem and Windham approved warrant articles Tuesday, each reserving a portion of daily water rights from Manchester Water Works, clearing a major hurdle for the construction of a state-funded project to deliver millions of gallons of water to southern communities.
The Southern New Hampshire Regional Water Project will be moving forward with water customers secured, now that Salem and Windham have approved bonds to buy into the program. Salem is looking to buy water rights for 1.5 million gallons per day for about $5.35 million. Windham will reserve 200,000 gallons per day for $750,000.
The construction of the project will be about $27 million and will be paid for by the MTBE Settlement Fund and the New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.
“We’re excited,” said Roy Sorenson, Salem’s director of municipal services. “We’re meeting with Derry and basically we’re finalizing the connection from Derry into Windham that will ultimately come down into Salem.”
The longest pipeline will be about 4.5 miles from Ryan’s Hill in Derry to Canobie Lake in Salem. From Salem, additional connections will be built to the Hampstead Area Water Company (HAWC), which services Atkinson and Hampstead, and from Atkinson into Plaistow.
The state will fund the conversion of a water suppression system in Plaistow into a combined drinking water and suppression system.
Beverly Donovan, Derry’s economic development director, said the project will make some properties in Derry easier to develop.
“I think it’s good for the overall region. Of course, it will help Derry develop some of the parcels south of Ryan’s Hill,” Donovan said.
Newly elected Salem selectman Arthur Barnes said he’s eager to work on the initial steps to complete the water project. Currently, he said the water draws from Arlington Pond and Canobie Lake for its water sources.
“Up until this point in time, our water supplies have been finite,” Barnes said. “That should alleviate that concern, and I think it’s good for the community.”
State Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem has been spearheading the effort from the state side. He said he expects the legal documents authorizing the project to be signed later this month.
“I thank both towns for their vote, because it was very strong, their support,” Morse said.
Morse said he doesn’t anticipate any concerns or disagreements from the communities to delay the legal authorizations, but there are still some engineering issues that need to be worked through.
As soon as they get authorization, Morse said HAWC will begin overseeing the construction of a new water storage tank in Atkinson.
By late spring, early summer, they’ll start putting projects out to bid for the major pipeline construction between Derry and Salem, Morse said.
The goal is to have water begin flowing by May of 2020.