TM approves Andover water study

Oct 5, 2017 by

Published in the October 5, 2017 edition


NORTH READING — Voters at October Town Meeting took the necessary steps Monday night to enable the Board of Selectmen to continue investigating the Andover option for the town’s future water needs.

Putting Andover back into the picture to potentially supply 100 percent of the town’s water needs going forward does not jeopardize what the town has already approved for the potential MWRA option. In just puts it on hold for now.

The water options were dealt with under Articles 10 through 14 by the 127 townspeople in attendance at the meeting.

As Selectman Stephen O’Leary explained, the only additional funding being requested was under Article 10 to fund $325,000 in order to evaluate the water and wastewater alternatives for the town.

This evaluation is not limited solely to the Andover option however. The town would be required to evaluate wastewater options (sewerage for certain sections of town, particularly commercial districts) regardless of whether its water ultimately comes from Andover or from the MWRA via a connection in Reading.

The $325,000 study will be funded using $175,500 from the town’s retained earnings water account with the balance of $149,500 coming from general fund borrowing.

The Finance Committee also backed this option. Because borrowing was involved, passage required a two-thirds vote.

O’Leary added that the results of this evaluation should be known by April during the budget season leading up to June Town Meeting.

Article 11 – The passage of Article 11 authorizes the Board of Selectmen to enter into an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) with the town of Andover for up to 99 years. It also allows the board to seek a Home-Rule petition for potable water through the filing of special legislation with the General Court to allow such an agreement to take place.

Article 12 – In keeping with the dual track for the town’s water options with the MWRA, the passage of Article 12 was requested “as a clarifying vote with the specific dollar amount to fund the construction of pump station in Reading at the Mill Street property purchased by the town line.

That amount of $7,680,000 was previously appropriated by the voters at Town Meeting in June 2017. It is necessary to be spent only if the town joins the MWRA because Reading is geographically lower than North Reading, therefore any water the town receives via the MWRA must be pumped up into North Reading’s water distribution pipes.

This article authorizes the Board of Selectmen to take any remaining action to finalize joining the MWRA for water. It includes repayment of the buy-in cost.

O’Leary said if the town goes with the MWRA, this buy-in cost would be funded with a zero interest loan provided by the MWRA for a 25-year term that would begin in the third year of the MWRA agreement.

Article 13 was passed without any discussion. It authorizes the town to negotiate a 99-year Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) with the town of Reading for potable water as well as a Home-Rule petition to the General Court for potable water if the town opts to go with the MWRA.

Passage of Article 14 was also necessary if the town is to pursue the MWRA option because some of the land through which the pipes would run in both North Reading and Reading in order to hook into Reading’s distribution system is protected under Article 97.

Passage of this article allows the town to file special legislation that would seek to allow easements on the land for water supply purposes, including water mains and related facilities.

Resident Bill Reed was concerned about the release of such restrictions under Article 97 if the MWRA option is not pursued. O’Leary stated that the two towns would only petition the legislature for this authorization if North Reading chose to go with the MWRA.

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