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Sunday, February 8, 2009

PUC Grants HAWC's request for $1.1M Loan to connect Atkinson to Hampstead, AND WE PAY IT FOR THEM!

Moderator, could you please post this.

Webmaster says -

Dear Atkinson Residents. Late this afternoon I received an EMAIL from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. This EMAIL can be read at This EMAIL is 17 pages long, but the short version is, the PUC is granting HAWC's request for a low interest, $1,100,885 loan to construct a pipeline along Rt. 121 (Main St.) to interconnect HAWC's Atkinson and Hampstead water systems.

The letter mentions all the testimony given by our Town Administrator, Carol Grant, Bill Bennett and John Wolters and the ordinances Atkinson (overwhelming) passed that prohibits such an interconnection. The letter also questions the accuracy of the massive water loss the Atkinson system has.

My take - The DES and PUC have thumbed their noses at the wishes of Atkinson's residents to protect our valuable aquifer against exploitation. Now, I'm not going to get into a discussion regarding whether our ordinances are legal or not. I will not respond to any comments on that issue. It has all been discussed before. Let’s leave it at this: The ordinances reflect the desires and wishes of an overwhelming majority of Atkinson's citizens.

The good news, this is not the end of the story and HAWC does not get a check in the mail tomorrow. This loan must still be approved by the Executive Council and the Governor. We have two things in our favor, 1) The state's fiscal situation, and 2) we have the support of our area's representative to the Executive Council, Beverly Hollingworth.

If you feel that the PUC's decision is wrong, please EMAIL Gov. Lynch at and copy Beverly at . If you are so inclined, I would like a copy of your EMAIL so I can archive them. Please be assured, your name will not be disclosed. I have no affiliation with any aspect of Atkinson's government or HAWC. My interests lie solely with the water issue. My EMAIL is You might want to include a mention of the state's fiscal crisis, that the pipeline is not needed, and the money can better spent elsewhere, or not spent at all. Thank you.

Side note - The EMAIL address for Gov. Lynch is a web based form. This means you cannot directly copy Ms. Hollingworth and that you do not retain a copy. It's a hassle so you could mention this to the Governor. So, use the web form to EMAIL the Governor, and regular EMAIL for Ms. Hollingworth and please mention that you sent the same message to the Governor.


Anonymous said...

Webmaster Says-

The Governors EMAIL web page limits you to 800 characters, so either chose your words carefully, or send him more than one. The idea is to make him aware of the situation and our concerns so that it is not a new subject for him when he meets with the Executive Council.

Anonymous said...

This should be outrageous for all NH towns to read.

I can't come up with a good reason to stay in this state anymore.

Curt Springer said...

Beverly Hollingworth represents me, too, as does John Lynch.

If you are going to try to mount some sort of backdoor appeal to the lawful process of deciding whether or not to approve the financing of the interconnection of two water system, it is no longer just an Atkinson issue. It involves issues of public policy that affect all of us in New Hampshire.

The case at hand is not directly connected to the proposal to pump more water out of aquifers in Atkinson. It is simply to connect two systems and seems to be consistent with best practices. The financing was approved by the PUC and agreed to by the office of the consumer advocate, an independent office appointed by the governor and executive councilor.

Everyone who wanted to intervene was allowed to, and it was to their credit that they did so and that they presented their information and opinions in great detail. It was to the PUC's credit that it paid close attention to what was said. But at the end of the day it was determined that these were not credible reasons not to allow the project to proceed.

Note that your town vote was not a factor in the decision, not that it should have been. It was determined that this project would not violate your local ordinance, enforceable or not.

As a resident of New Hampshire, I want to see these decisions based on best practices and objective analysis, not on emotion and sentiment. That's what state law and public policy demand.

Water is too important for the overall public good to allow towns to shut off the flow at their boundaries. The water and its economic value can lie in different places.

For example, Portsmouth, the economic engine of the seacoast, gets all or nearly all of its water from the Bellamy River in Madbury. Can you imagine what the economic impact would be, not just to residents of Portsmouth, but to residents of surrounding areas of Rockingham and Strafford counties would be if Madbury were allowed to cut off the water, or if it had been allowed a veto in the first place, 50 years ago?

I'm generally not thrilled by hauling water out of aquifers anywhere to be put into plastic bottles and shipped by trucks. Nor am I taking any position on the proposal to put more wells in Atkinson. That is still going through the DES approval process.

And by the way, we are debating at all levels of government how to get shovels into the ground and money flowing into the economy. Here we have a project that will literally put shovels into the ground to the tune of $1 million for labor and materials.

Anonymous said...


I could go into a long and detailed rebuttal, but I'm not going to waste my time. Butt out.

However, regarding your last comment; 1) the wells are already in place. They only bothered to tell the town about them after they were completed. Isn't it curious that Harold Morse, president of HAWC, but also a member of our Planning Board forgot to mention that to the town? 2) The pipeline will be constructed by Lewis Builders, owned and operated by the Lewis family who own and operate HAWC. And those who in the long term who will be paying for this are HAWC customers. I don't think this cozy little arrangement is quite what the U.S. government has in mind when they talk of shovel ready projects. Do you?

You don't like it, you are free to contact Ms. Hollingworth and the Governor. I'm sure your lack of standing in this specific case will be taken into consideration.

Oh, and a little icing. It was the office of the OCA, who through persistent questioning in response to evasive answers, uncovered the 33% Atkinson system water loss, and they told me personally it will be a factor when HAWC asks for their rate increase this Spring.

Anonymous said...

They just had a rate increase 6 months ago. I have a new fee on my bill which has increased my water bill by 50%.

Anonymous said...

Well, they want another one, specifically to pay off the pipeline loan. I will post the PUC Docket number tonight.

This not only affects non HAWC customers. It will be HAWC customers who will pay for this. For all intents and purposes, if HAWC ultimately gets the loan, they get the pipeline for free.

It is a lot to wade through, but all the related documentation is at . Determine for yourself if this pipeline is needed, and if you should be paying for it.

HAWC customers have as much reason to be upset about this as non-customers. If you agree, please, EMAIL the Governor and Ms. Hollingworth. With yours, others input, this loan could be far from a sure thing.

Anonymous said...

The PUC docket number for rate increase to repay the pipeline loan, if approved, is DW 08-065 The first hearing right now is scheduled for May 28, 2009. The Docket number for the pipeline is DW 08-088. You can get all available information is you go the PUC's website at and enter the docket number in search box in the upper right.

The reason for DW 08-085 is that Office of Consumer Affairs objected to bundling a rate increase into the pipeline loan petition.

A staff attorney for the OCA, Ms. Rorie Hollenberg,told me the water loss issue will be investigated as part of HAWC's petition.

So, HAWC customers, tired of the soaking you're getting, and more to come, there is a list of EMAIL addresses at of people who should hear your concerns.

Also, how do you feel that you've been paying HAWC since 2006 (that we know of) to lose 1/3 of the water they pump. You've been footing the bill.

Anonymous said...


Your argument is a very poor one on many levels; we're not talking an established source of water here, we're talking about an expansion.

What you also completely neglected to mention was that the same company that's sucking the water out of the groud also runs TWO golf courses in town that will be draining our wells and drying them up, making us dependent on the Hampstead Area Water Mafia in the future.

You post some good information sometimes Curt, but this post was quite poor in quality, and lacking in even the most basic information.

Anonymous said...

Let's leave Curt alone. He's moved his attention to a different topic. Let him focus on that.

What I hope you, and others are doing, is writing Ms. Hollingworth and the Governor. Ms. Hollingworth's interest in our plight has grown. She needs to hear from HAWC and non HAWC customers. Carol, John, Bill and others have made great progress. But, the Governor and the Executive Council need to know that they have your backing. 3 people making their voice heard is good. 300+ cannot easily be dismissed.

It doesn't take long and it is not hard. Just tell them how you feel about all this.

Curt Springer said...

I'm all about process.

I've always said I am not qualified to speak to specific issues such as whether Atkinson can sustain more water being pumped out of the ground.

That is to be decided by state agencies such as DES and PUC, with appropriate input from residents or others who have specific knowledge. I applauded those Atkinson residents who took the time and trouble to participate. I think it would be appropriate for them and others to participate in upcoming dockets.

I just think that it is inappropriate to ask **our** executive councilor and **our** governor to try to overturn decisions made by state agencies except under the most extraordinary conditions. The PUC in particular is a quasi-judicial body that interprets state law in individual cases. To approach the governor and council, IMO you need some reason other than that you disagree with the decision.

If you look at the dockets you will see voluminous documents with participation from all parties.

Also, I think that is dangerous to rely on the governor and council to act as some sort of general trump card over regulatory processes. Regarding the loan from the revolving fund, there will be a check cut with the approval of the governor and council. But for the main event, the proposed expansion of groundwater withdrawal, I don't believe that they have any say in the matter. Nor do they have any say on the rates to be charged.

tim dziechowski said...

Curt, this is why the prime wetlands article we have on our March warrant is so important. Current case law will not allow major water withdrawals from prime wetlands without clear and convincing evidence that the wetlands will not be harmed. See Wetlands Council Docket No. 07-02 WtC - Town of Barrington Appeal.

And BTW, thanks to Betsy Sanders for her co-sponsorship of HB 384, which may help us to add more prime wetlands next year.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell us. Write Beverly and the Governor. Tell them they have no right to question the decisions of the agencies they have responsibility for.

You clearly do not know all the facts. You just blindly assume the DES and PUC are working for the peoples best interest, never mind what the people think. Do you think that Harold Morse's refusal to twice address the Atkinson public, and that repeated requests to the PUC to hold a public hearing went unheeded gave the public sufficient input to the loan request? What were the people of Atkinson supposed to do then? Hire buses to haul the populace to the hearing. Are we suppose to just roll over when Harold was caught in two lies during the PUC hearing but the PUC chose to ignore that, and that undisputed evidence that should have had a bearing on the decision was just dismissed.

How dare we go behind their backs to our elected officials to have a faulty decision corrected. What nerve we have. What a dangerous precedent. Bad citizens. We should punished for such attitudes.

You are even more ignorant than I though possible.

"I've always said I am not qualified to speak to specific issues such as whether Atkinson can sustain more water being pumped out of the ground."

That is the only correct thing you have said.

So, don't complain to use that we are not being good doobies by not following "THE PROCESS". Go tell Ms. Hollingworth and Gov. Lynch that they are doing it all wrong and that they have no right to overrule an agency under them. Let us know how that turns out.

Anonymous said...

"I just think that it is inappropriate to ask **our** executive councilor and **our** governor to try to overturn decisions made by state agencies except under the most extraordinary conditions."

So, using that same logic, it would not be appropriate for a wounded Vet to seek assistance from his congressman or senator to intervene with the VA if a decision made by the VA was perceived harmful by the Vet, just because the VA followed it's process?

Agencies make mistakes, whether intentionally or unintentionally. You are saying we should just accept whatever decisions they make and live with them, because they followed their process?

You are suggesting we not bother our elected representatives if we disagree with an agencies decision, because the agency most certainly knows best or working an agenda contrary to the public good (and we know that never, ever happens)?

What country do you live in? Is there a Danville in N. Korea?

You have made one of the stupidest arguments I've ever heard. There was an entry in another topic regard narcissist and how it might apply to you. Suggest you go back and read it.

Curt Springer said...

To anon@February 14, 2009 3:26 PM

You are right, I was out of line telling you what to say to our elected representatives. You are free to communicate with them as you see fit.

That said, I don't think you should expect much out of it.

And I don't think that the position of a wounded veteran is anything like the well-documented process (have you actually looked at all the documents in the two current rate cases) that is in play with these water issues.

Regarding the meeting with HAWC, the PUC noted this in their order:

On November 10,
2008, the Town of Atkinson filed a letter with the Commission stating that its attempts to meet
with HAWC in a public meeting have been unsuccessful. Atkinson stated that its selectmen still
seek a forum within which to receive replies to their concerns and requested the Commission
~DW 08-088 - 5 -
withhold rendering its decision until HAWC meets with the selectmen in a public session. The
Commission has received no further correspondence from the town.


IL Town of Atkinson
Steven V. Angelo, Town Administrator for the Town of Atkinson, stated that the
selectmen opposed HAWC’s original franchise petition but that they are encouraged by
HAWC’s revised, smaller franchise proposal. 11/4/OS Tr. at 68 line 24 and at 69 line 1. Mr.
Angelo expressed the selectmen’s frustration at not being able to meet with HAWC in a public
selectmen’s meeting so that their concerns could be aired. Mr. Angelo stated the Town of
Atkinson would like to take a position regarding HAWC’s petition, but without answers tothe
selectmen’s questions, it is unable to do so. 11/4/08 Tr. at 70 lines 13-19.


The OCA does not oppose and Staff supports HAWC’s revised franchise request of 52
acres, however, the Town of Atkinson states that while encouraged by this latest proposal, it has
not taken a final position on the issue due to HAWC’s failure to meet with the Town in a public
forum. 11/4/08 Tr. at 70. We note that the Town of Atkinson was notified of this proceeding in
August 2008 and had numerous opportunities during the discovery phase of this docket to
question HAWC about the proposed interconnection. in this case, the Commission granted the
Town of Atkinson’s request for late intervention and afforded the town an opportunity to
question HAWC during the hearing held on November 4, 2008. Additionally, on November 18,
2008, the Town of Atkinson requested that the Commission delay issuing its decision in this
proceeding until its selectmen could meet with HAWC in a public session. Two months have
passed since that request without further communication from the Town of Atkinson. In light of
the opportunity to engage in discovery and to present evidence and argument at hearing, pursuant
to RSA 541-A, we find that all parties were afforded adequate due process.

Anonymous said...

A most excellent example of what we've been trying to tell you. You don't know all the facts, or the stories behind them.

Go to

Read the Town Administrators response to Harold's testimony regarding his inability to meet with the town. Harold Morse refused to meet with the town or its citizens, and then testified the town was non responsive. In spite of the Town Administrators attempt to set the record straight, the PUC ignored him.

Harold lied twice (that we know of) at the PUC hearing, and lied to the town last spring when he told the town in a public forum none of Atkinson's water would be shipped out of town. Of course, they were already working the DES on the pipeline.

So, you will understand, we don't trust anything that comes out of Harold's mouth, and we don't trust the PUC and DES to do the right thing despite the evidence presented. They have made clear their addenda and they are not going to let the facts get in the way.

"That said, I don't think you should expect much out of it."

Willing to take bets on that? The future is never certain, but I wouldn't bet my day job on that prediction.

Anyways, all this discussion does not mean a damn thing other than to again demonstrate you go on these wild discourses always trying to show you are right, and we are wrong. Your arguments here are amongst the worst you've every given. We can continue, or drop it.

You do not know it all, and, you're not the boss of me.

Curt Springer said...

Also of interest:

Staff Reply to Town of Atkinson Request to Stay Proceeding

To anon@February 14, 2009 6:45 PM:
I don't know it all, nor am I the boss of you, I agree.

I read all the stuff re scheduling a meeting with Harold Morse.

Here is his testimony:
23 Q. Mr. Morse, following the Stipulation, did the Company
24 make an effort to contact the Town to come to some
{DW 08-088} {11-04-08}
[WITNESSES: Morse|St. Cyr|Naylor|Brogan|Eckberg]
1 agreement on the franchise request?
2 A. (Morse) Yes. Either directly with the Selectmen or
3 through their attorney, we made several attempts to sit
4 down and come up with what they would consider a
5 minimal agreement.
6 Q. And, because this matter was concerning issues that
7 were in litigation, how did the Company couch its
8 request to the Town, as far as the form of meeting?
9 A. (Morse) We requested to meet with them with their
10 attorney in executive session to discuss it.
11 Q. And, how many times did we make that request of them?
12 A. (Morse) Three that I know of.
13 Q. And, what was their response?
14 A. (Morse) Never got back to us.
15 Q. Okay.
16 A. (Morse) And, they proposed holding a public hearing on
17 the 30th of October. We sent in a letter of our
18 reduced franchise area and description of the franchise
19 at that time.
20 Q. So, that was delivered to the Town offices that
21 afternoon?
22 A. (Morse) Yes, it was, prior to that meeting, scheduled
23 meeting, yes.
24 Q. And, what was the result of that meeting?
{DW 08-088} {11-04-08}
[WITNESSES: Morse|St. Cyr|Naylor|Brogan|Eckberg]
1 A. (Morse) I believe they canceled the meeting, to the
2 best of my knowledge.
3 Q. Have you ever received a counterproposal from the Town
4 as to what franchise size would be acceptable to them?
5 A. No, I haven't.

Steven Angelo representing the town at the same hearing:

CHAIRMAN GETZ: Thank you. Mr. Angelo,
5 do you have questions for the witnesses?
7 MR. WOLTERS: And, my name is John
8 Wolters --
9 CHAIRMAN GETZ: No, excuse me,
10 Mr. Wolters. The Town of Atkinson is a party, and
11 Mr. Angelo is here representing the Town of Angelo -- the
12 "Town of Angelo" -- the Town of Atkinson. Do you have
13 questions for the witnesses?
14 MR. ANGELO: I don't know if it's a
15 question, sir, but just a disagreement as to how the Town
16 and the Applicant communicated on the -- in terms of a
17 meeting.
18 CHAIRMAN GETZ: Well, what we will do
19 is, at the end of the proceedings, after this panel has
20 been questioned, after the other witnesses have been
21 questioned, we'll have an opportunity for closing
22 statements. So, if you have something in the form of a
23 closing statement that you want to make or a
24 representation, that you can do that then.
{DW 08-088} {11-04-08}
[WITNESSES: Morse|St. Cyr|Naylor|Brogan|Eckberg]
1 MR. ANGELO: Okay.
2 CHAIRMAN GETZ: So, I take it you have
3 no questions?
4 MR. ANGELO: No, sir.


MR. ANGELO: All right, sir. Thank you
18 very much, sir. I'm authorized by the Board of Selectmen
19 to tell you the following things: First of all, the
20 Selectmen were diametrically opposed to the original
21 franchise area. So, that is something they looked at,
22 they objected to, and I believe they may have stated so
23 publicly, but certainly stated it to me privately as
24 individuals. This latest proposal is something that they,
{DW 08-088} {11-04-08}
[WITNESSES: Morse|St. Cyr|Naylor|Brogan|Eckberg]
1 in my opinion, are very encouraged by. However, they have
2 many questions of the Hampstead Water District that they
3 would like to ask them. And, I would just like to talk a
4 little bit about the way in which the Selectmen tried to
5 meet with them.
6 First of all, Mr. Morse asked to be on
7 the agenda in a public session of the Board of Selectmen.
8 He was put on the agenda several weeks ago. He did not
9 come to that meeting, so the Selectmen were not afforded
10 an opportunity to get answers to some of their questions
11 on the original franchise area. When that did not work
12 out, the Selectmen decided to have me write a letter to
13 the Hampstead Area Water District, to Mr. Morse in
14 particular, to invite him to another public session, which
15 would have been last Thursday. Through the attorneys, and
16 I guess through personal conversations that I have no
17 direct knowledge about, it was told to the Selectmen that
18 they would not appear at that public hearing, and they
19 requested an executive session through the attorneys, in
20 order to speak with the Selectmen about their questions.
21 The Selectmen could see no opportunity under the RSAs that
22 an executive session would be warranted. Therefore,
23 through the attorneys, they refused that request.
24 The Selectmen feel, and felt then, that
{DW 08-088} {11-04-08}
[WITNESSES: Morse|St. Cyr|Naylor|Brogan|Eckberg]
1 it was very important, because of the issues surrounding
2 this, that the public was very interested in this, and
3 there ought to be a public hearing on this. And, since
4 there was no opportunity under the RSAs to have an
5 executive session, the only way they could be afforded to
6 answer those questions would be at a public session. So,
7 they were quite disappointed that the Hampstead Area Water
8 District chose not to come. Now, they say that they
9 couldn't come because of pending litigation. That was not
10 a concern of the Board of Selectmen. The Selectmen wanted
11 those answers in public, and, because of the law, could
12 only get them in a public session.
13 So, I wanted to reiterate that to you.
14 That's all I'm authorized to say by the Selectmen. They
15 would like to take a position, but, again, unless they
16 have the answers to questions that they would like to pose
17 to Mr. Morse and the rest of his representatives at a
18 public meeting, they have not taken a final position on
19 this.
20 I would also say that the record that
21 was sent to me on the proposal to shrink the franchise
22 area was sent last -- was received by the Town last
23 Thursday in my mail. I was out on another personal
24 matter, did not receive that until Monday morning. The
{DW 08-088} {11-04-08}
[WITNESSES: Morse|St. Cyr|Naylor|Brogan|Eckberg]
1 minute I opened it Monday morning, I e-mailed it to the
2 two selectmen I was able to e-mail it to. The third
3 selectmen was in the hospital, and still remains in the
4 hospital, with a serious medical condition.
5 Last night, they directed me to tell you
6 about their -- that, in my opinion, they're encouraged.
7 But, again, they have some reservations in taking a final
8 position because of what I stated.
9 CHAIRMAN GETZ: All right. Thank you.
10 All right. Then, we'll resume with the cross-examination.
11 Thank you, Mr. Angelo.

Anonymous said...

Well, you have the cut and paste technique down pat.

Any theories why Mr. Angelo sent that the letter to the PUC after the hearing?

Curt Springer said...

I don't know why Angelo sent the letter, since he made the point at the hearing.

While the private Atkinson citizens did a superb job of participating and making their points (whether one agrees or not), the same can not be said of your town (meaning BOS, town counsel and town administrator).

In particular:

They filed way late, well after the schedule was established, forfeiting their right to have any say as to the timing or events of the schedule. If they had filed on time, they could have asked for a public hearing to be part of the schedule. It's not clear that this would have been granted, but if it had been, the decision would not have happened until HAWC met with the town.

They limited the scope of their intervention to the original proposed expansion of the franchise area by 1,185 acres. This precluded any comment from them on other issues, such as leakage, or the lack of need for fire purposes, or anything aspect of the public benefit of the intervention. HAWC cut them off at the knees by amending the petition to reduce to the expansion of the franchise to a trivial area along the road where the pipeline would run. Essentially it made town participation irrelevant because that was all they said was their concern.

They complained that Harold Morse would not meet with them and answer their questions, but at the hearing, when Morse was there under oath, they had no questions for him, and no closing statement of substance other than essentially signing off on the reduced franchise area.

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