BWD receives large grant, loan for West Bethel system
The Bethel Water District has received approval for a $278,000 loan and $215,000 grant to connect West Bethel with the BWD’s main system, according to a press release from Rep. Mike Michaud’s office.
In recent years the roughly 60 BWD customers in West Bethel have had problems with water quality, with some complaining of high iron content and discoloration in the water that is supplied by two wells in that village.
The West Bethel users account for approximately 10 percent of all BWD customers, according to Brent Angevine, chairman of the BWD Board of Trustees.
The loan and grant, which the BWD applied for a year ago, are through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development’s Water Program.
Trustees will hold a special meeting Aug. 31, with USDA representatives and the BWD’s engineer regarding the funds and the project, Angevine said.
“We haven’t actually voted to do the project yet. We want to get everyone together to make sure they’re comfortable with the plan,” he said.
If that is the case, he said, he would expect a formal vote to approve at the board’s regular meeting in September.
The tentative plan calls for running a pipe from the system on the North Road across the bed of the Androscoggin River to Ferry Road in West Bethel, and then connecting to the West Bethel system. A fire hydrant would also be installed on Ferry Road, he said.
But even with formal approval in September, said Angevine, he does not expect work to actually start until next summer.
Time is needed to get the funding and necessary permits in place.
By the end of the project, said Angevine, “West Bethel will be drinking the same water as Bethel.”
The BWD has also applied for another $100,000 grand from the Maine Drinking Water Program, he said, $25,000 of which would have to be paid by BWD.
Those funds are specifically for the consolidation of what are now two separate systems for Bethel and West Bethel.
With that consolidation, much of the duplicate paperwork that must now go to the state will be eliminated, he said.
Even with the new water, West Bethel will still be in need of additional infrastructure improvements, said Angevine. “A lot of work needs to be done. The infrastructure needs to be replaced,” he said.
The BWD will retire a lot of debt in 2015, he said, possibly putting the district in a position to address those needs. The total cost to replace the infrastructure is estimated at $3.5 million.