By Amy Kolb Noyes
Voters in Berlin headed to the polls Wednesday to vote on a $5.5 million bond to build a water system to service the Four Corners area. The town plans to repay the bond through water system user fees.
Last summer Berlin inquired about purchasing water from nearby Montpelier and Barre. Montpelier responded with an offer and hoped to negotiate a deal with Berlin but the Berlin Select Board has not responded to communications on the matter, according to Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser.
Should the bond vote pass, Berlin plans to drill three bedrock wells, each providing 50 gallons of water per minute feeding into a 400,000 gallon storage tank. The water will be distributed through 31,500 feet of water mains. The new infrastructure would connect to that of the Berlin Water Company, which the town plans to purchase. The Berlin Water Company currently serves an area of town adjacent to the planned Four Corners district, between the Berlin Health & Rehab Center and the Barre-Montpelier Road.
The water system would provide potable water and fire protection to the plateau that encompasses the fire department, the elementary school, Berlin Mall, a shopping plaza, Carroll Concrete, and the new state hospital proposed for the corner of Fisher Road and Paine Turnpike. Eighty to 90 residences could also hook into the system. Central Vermont Medical Center purchases its water directly from the city of Montpelier and would not be a customer of the new water system.
Berlin Town Administrator Jeff Schulz said Berlin will need to install the water mains regardless of whether the town drills wells or purchases water from another municipality.
“The whole idea is to build infrastructure within the town of Berlin,” said Schulz.
Fraser agreed with Schulz’ position saying, “The Bond vote to build a system doesn’t preclude them from buying water from us.”
Fraser said Montpelier is still waiting for a response from Berlin, and as far as Montpelier is concerned the offer is still on the table.