Updating the water system is a three-phase project, which includes installation of a brand new filtration system, as well as two sections of 12-inch PVC piping that run across the Route 100 bridge, and up Jarvis Hill Road to the town reservoir. While the total project cost is $1.3 million, the state of Vermont is providing 58% percent of the price tag while Readsboro picks up the remaining 42%, using a 25-year bond loan.
On March 29, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division, conducted only the third inspection of the system since its installation in the mid-1980s. The state’s report found nine areas of deficiency, but also recognized the town acquired permits for construction that would address many of the system’s upgrade needs. According to Readsboro Selectboard chair Teddy Hopkins, the town’s approach to tackling big-ticket projects this summer will make it easier to meet all of the requirements.
“The state came through and checked the whole ball of wax,” said Hopkins. “We got hit up with a whole slew of things to take care of and there are still more inconsistencies the town must meet. For now, this satisfies what needs to be done this year.”
Already completed is the installation of new filters in the water station off Branch Hill Road, which takes water from Howe Pond and the reservoir on the northwest side of town. The new filtration system was built with plastic piping and features an alarm system that lets the operator know of inconsistencies in turbidity, telemetry, water pressure, and electricity. According to water system operator Mitchell Holland, the alarm system provides piece of mind.
“If there’s any problems, it calls me at home,” said Holland. “This alarm system used to just cover turbidity (how muddy the water is) and now there’s more things it looks out for, so you can catch those things quicker. I get calls at home all the time.”
The new filtration system was an immediate necessity. According to the state’s report, the legs supporting the old filters had a significant amount of corrosion and “failure” was imminent. Other problems included a valve junction box that was leaking significant amounts of water, and the lack of a more comprehensive alarm system.
Holland says that while improvements were needed, the town’s water quality has never wavered. Holland is currently working with Culligan, as well as project designer Green Mountain Engineering, to bring each of the filter’s PSIs to the magic number of 25. The cost of work on the filtration system came to approximately $125,000.
The two other parts of the water project can be found underground, where Zaluzny Construction is installing 12-inch PVC piping. Readsboro’s current water system has three different pipe sizes throughout, including six-, eight-,and 12-inch piping at various points. The water project is intended to bring as much of the water system as possible up to 12-inch piping, and address minimum requirements for fire hydrants, which require at least 8-inch piping.
The first leg of installation is underway with 860 feet of pipe being run to the reservoir. Two hundred feet of pipe were already installed in the first two days. The total length of the piping installations will reach 1,300 feet.
Eli Erwin is supervising the water project for Green Mountain Engineering, and acting as the town’s eyes and ears on the project, keeping the design and timetable on track, while informing the town of any change orders the project requires. With a rocky, ledge-filled terrain to tackle, Erwin says the project has gone surprisingly smoothly, which can save the town money, and possibly allow the project to extend further.
“We throw money at each segment,” said Erwin. “Rock removal is one, ledge removal is another, but those are all unknown quantities. If we find a boulder, it could take up more time. We don’t want to do any blasting because that takes more time and equipment, so to do it with equipment on site is better and allows us to keep proceeding with piping.”
Hopkins explained that each snag could set the project back. “Anything can save money. If they can go faster it saves extra dollars for the town and then that’s more money we can use to extend pipe on another side of town.”
The second part of the piping process will run piping down to the Route 100 bridge where new 12-inch pipe has already been fastened along its underside. At the other side of the bridge, however, there is still six-inch pipe running along Main Street. Eventually, the town would like to replace that piping as well, connecting 12-inch pipes from the filtration plant to the reservoir.
Taking a left off the Route 100 bridge, drivers on Tunnel Street will continue to wait at the temporary traffic light of a one-lane bridge until at least November.
The bridge, which crosses the West Branch of the Deerfield River, is undergoing a $3.7 million reconstruction. Hopkins said the bridge project has been on the books for over 20 years, due to deterioration of the old bridge.
The town is only required to cover 10% of the cost, with the state covering the remainder. Water and sewer lines ran adjacent to the old bridge, but due to updated requirements since its construction, both lines will be located under the bridge to comply with the requirement that lines be 6 feet underground. This is a cause for concern to Hopkins.
“Where the lines are notched out is four feet lower than the old one,” said Hopkins. “You talk about hurricanes and high water, and you wonder why the heck they’re putting the lines down there, but it was in the plans the state put together, and requirements made it that way. With the debris coming down the river I saw during Irene, it makes me nervous.”