Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
School water proposal progresses
July 17, 2008
Section: LOCAL NEWS
By Steven H. Foskett Jr.
SUTTON - The town is about to take a big step toward getting water service to the school complex and West Sutton.
Selectmen Tuesday approved a home rule petition that if approved by the Legislature will allow Aquarion Water Co. to establish service in West Sutton. Town Administrator James A. Smith said the goal of allowing Aquarion, a private water company, to provide service in West Sutton has always been to eventually get water service to the Boston Road school complex. The schools currently use on-site wells. Water quality has been an issue; bottled water is provided, and some science teachers have said experiments are difficult because of contaminants in the water.
Mr. Smith said the schools have been operating under a state Department of Environmental Protection consent order because of the water quality. He said the consent order originally called for solving the problem by Jan. 1. Mr. Smith said that knowing the town was petitioning the Legislature and negotiating with Aquarion, the DEP granted an extension to January 2009.
Mr. Smith said the DEP prefers piping water to the school rather than having the schools rely on wells.
"This option is the preferred option, over the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take with water treatment," Mr. Smith told selectmen this week.
The draft legislation approved by selectmen this week has specific protections for the town, and will only go into effect pending an agreement between the town and Aquarion, Mr. Smith said.
"This is not carte blanche," Mr. Smith said.
If established, the new district would basically stretch from the border of the Wilkinsonville Water District just west of Route 146 to the Millbury and Oxford borders, and would terminate just south of Central Turnpike. The home rule petition will be forwarded to state Rep. Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton, who will introduce it as legislation. Mr. Smith said the current formal session ends in around two weeks, but that Ms. Callahan might be able to introduce the legislation in informal session in the late summer or fall.
Michael Chizy, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the legislation could help to solve a long-term problem.
"That's been trouble at the school for quite a while," Mr. Chizy said.
Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the home rule petition. The board got the go-ahead to petition the Legislature from town meeting voters in the spring.
Bridgeport, Conn.-based Aquarion owns and operates the public water supplies in Millbury and Oxford. Mr. Roland said that if the process continues, Aquarion could eventually provide water to the schools, and that he understood the town initiated the process for that reason.
Town residents get their water from private wells or through three water districts: the Manchaug Water District, the Wilkinsonville Water District and the Whitinsville Water Co.