$4.3M goes toward contaminated wells in Charlestown

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/24/2022 10:12:07 PM
Modified: 3/24/2022 10:11:16 PM

CHARLESTOWN — Charlestown has been awarded nearly $4.3 million for a long-needed drinking water project that will take residents in North Charlestown off of an arsenic-contaminated well.

A grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, better known as ARPA, will cover $1,286,700, or 30% of the project. A loan from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund covers the remaining $3 million. After the project is completed, the town may be eligible for some loan forgiveness.

“The ARPA money is a huge bonus,” said Patricia Chaffee, Charlestown’s water and wastewater administrative assistant. “It lowers the amount we have to borrow, which helps to keep water payments low and amount we have to pay back low.”

The North Charlestown Water System has had high arsenic levels since “the day they dug it” in the 1960s, Chaffee said.

Addressing the contamination in the well would be costly, so the town decided to decommission the North Charlestown well, and connect the 134 customers it serves to the main Charlestown well. The Charlestown Water System, which already serves about 1100 customers, has abundant clean water, Chaffee said.

The project has other perks besides addressing the arsenic contamination. There will be a new booster pump station to address low-pressure areas in North Charlestown. The improvements will also ease the way for possible development in town, Chaffee said.

Residents authorized the town to seek $4.6 million in bonds and grants to connect the Charlestown and North Charlestown water systems to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking water at Town Meeting in 2021.

The $4.3 million will be enough to cover the project, Chaffee said.

The town received three bids and NHDES is conducting a final environmental review.

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