October 28, 2016
by Kaylee Murphy
It was a full house this past Tuesday night as people piled into the Campbell High School auditorium. Litchfield citizens listened to what Pennichuck, the Town of Litchfield and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services had to say.
At the beginning of the meeting the Town of Litchfield wanted to ensure the public that even though St. Gobain has agreed to hook up 360 Litchfield homes that this is not a settlement. The Town of Litchfield had their first meeting with St. Gobain in September and St. Gobain has agreed to continue talks. When Selectman Frank Byron started reading out loud the list of the town of Litchfield’s demands, applause erupted when he reached the demand that St. Gobain pay the impacted citizens’ and businesses’ water bills for the next 20 years. However, as soon as a homeowner gets connected to public water they are expected to start paying their monthly bill.
Pennichuck’s average customer pays about $50 per month. An additional $9 might be added to that monthly cost if Pennichuck rates go up. Pennichuck’s last rate increase was in 2010. Pennichuck does guarantee clean, safe drinking water and that water will be available 24/7/365 even during a power outage. People voiced their concerns about Pennichuck not having the capability to supply an additional 360 homes. Larry Goodhue, CEO of Pennichuck, assured people that he does by naming off several of their water sources.
At the meeting the construction was explained as two phases. Phase one’s goal, which has already started, is to connect 173 Litchfield homes by 2016, weather permitting. The rest of the homes will be connected during phase two. All roads will be repaved after the pipes have been put in. Construction should be over by mid-August 2017.
Pictures will be taken of private property before the construction of hooking up to private property begins. Contractors will begin fixing any damages to homeowner’s property on April 1 (weather permitting) at no cost to the homeowner. The homes who don’t get connected to public water in 2016 will receive a Point of View, which will be installed by Culligan.
NHDES wanted to let people know that in order to be connected by public water, homeowner’s private wells must be disconnected. This leaves the homeowner with three options. The first option and the one that NHDES recommends is for homeowners to decommission their wells. The second is to disconnect your private well from your house but have it still be viable for non-consumption use. An example of that would be watering your lawn. The third option is to refuse public water. However, if you refuse to hook up to public water now, St. Gobain will not be paying you to connect later. In New Hampshire if a homeowner is trying to sell their home a realtor is required to inform any potential buyers if your home has a contaminated well.
Since Pennichuck will be going to people’s homes, Goodhue wants to remind everybody of what they should be expecting for safety purposes. No one from Pennichuck should be showing up at your house without an arranged appointment. All Pennichuck employees will have shirts with the logo on it as well as a badge. The badge should have their name, picture, employee identification number and the Pennichuck’s 800 number listed below. Most of the time they will be showing up in a Pennichuck vehicle, but not always.
For those who did not attend the meeting and are one of the proposed 360 homes, you should be getting paperwork in the mail basically agreeing to be hooked up to public water and for what you would like to happen to your well. Many people signed the forms after the meeting on Tuesday.
If you have any questions call Pennichuck at 1-800-553-5191.