$6 million earmarked for water supply.

AuthorLaPlaca, Debbie

Byline: Debbie LaPlaca

CHARLTON -- A $6 million provision to aid Charlton in developing a permanent source for its municipal water system is included in the House version of the state environmental bond bill.

The $6 million amendment by state Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer, and Rep. Paul K. Frost, R-Auburn, was included in the bill adopted by the House last week.

"This is a difficult situation in that Charlton's water issues have been going on for decades. As Charlton's state representatives we took action to provide support in developing a long-term and sustainable solution for the community's water concerns,'' Mr. Durant said.

State Rep. Anne M. Gobi, D-Spencer, House chairman of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee that recommended the bill for adoption, said she supported the amendment.

"Given the water contamination issues in Charlton, it is absolutely critical for them to get another supplier for clean water. Unfortunately, they cannot do that without some money,'' she said.

The bill is before the state Senate.

State Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said he supports the $6 million provision.

"Water has been the No. 1 problem that I have encountered in Charlton for the last 12 years. We've worked very hard to heal the terrible gasoline leak caused by Exxon,'' he said.

An ExxonMobil Corp. storage tank at the Massachusetts Turnpike 6 West service plaza leaked a large amount of gasoline in the early 1980s. The ensuing underground plume carried gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, known as MTBE, into the water table.

The state Department of Environmental Protection ordered Exxon to install infrastructure to supply clean water to tainted properties.

Charlton began constructing its $4.6 million water system in 1999. The intended water source fell through, and town officials have been seeking another source since.

Negotiations with Southbridge that began in 2004 for 500,000 gallons of water per day led to a temporary agreement in 2009 for 100,000 gpd for about 120 properties with MTBE-tainted wells.

Talks continued toward an agreement for 500,000 gpd but stalled early this year when Southbridge officials said the 72 properties that have connected to date are using only a portion of the 100,000 gpd.

With too few properties drawing water through the lines, it stagnates. To keep the water moving, operators leave open a hydrant in a wasteful process known as blow off.


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