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Monday, April 27, 2009

DES holds hearing on Atkinson water withdrawal plan

From the Eagle Tribune;

DES holds hearing on Atkinson water withdrawal plan
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON, N.H. — The town is expecting a packed house Tuesday night for a public hearing for residents to comment on the Hampstead Area Water Company's large groundwater withdrawal proposal.

This will be the second hearing Atkinson selectman have requested from the state Department of Environmental Services, the agency that will ultimately decide the fate of the proposal.

But the final report submitted to DES calls for a 46 percent drop in the amount of water the company would withdraw every day. The first proposal was for 648,000 gallons per day; the latest proposal is for just 348,480 gallons a day, according to Christine Bowman, a hydrogeologist with the department's Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau.In the initial proposal, the water company requested withdrawing water from three locations in Atkinson — Settlers Ridge, Midpoint and Fieldstone. But the latest proposal doesn't include the Midpoint location, Bowman said.

"It's uncertain how the water system is going to proceed with the Midpoint well field," Bowman said.

One of the most important concerns is whether the withdrawals will affect residents' wells, Selectman Bill Bennett said.

To end that fear, Bennett said, DES needs to explain Tuesday night that they understand the hydrogeology well enough that residents' wells won't run dry.

"The townspeople have gotten hoarse explaining what they think of the whole situation," Bennett said.

Even though Atkinson residents approved a local ordinance aimed at protecting the community's water, it won't have any effect on whether DES approves the water company's groundwater proposal. The state attorney general's office submitted an opinion to selectmen in a letter Dec. 9 that said Atkinson's local ordinance cannot interfere with the state's ability to regulate large groundwater withdrawal applications.

"The law is pretty clear and the attorney general has issued an opinion that the town law doesn't apply," Bennett said.

After the hearing Tuesday, residents have 45 days to submit written comments to DES. They will then publish a letter with the comments and make a decision some time after that. Bowman couldn't say how long it would take for DES to make its decision.

"It really depends on how complete the final report is," she said.

A copy of the water company's final report is available at Town Hall and Kimball Library for residents to view. The hearing is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Atkinson Community Center.


Anonymous said...

Removal of Midpoint is certainly good news because it is the one well that affects the most homes. However, I have two concerns with decision: 1) I didn't see anywhere that they have totally given up on the site. What if HAWC changes it's mind in the future and tries for approval again in the future. It would only be one well, not 5, so what could it hurt? 2) I also fear this is a ploy already used once by HAWC; make a show of giving up something in the hopes the rest of the proposal will gain more favor. They did this during the pipeline hearings by scaling back their franchise request. Acting in good faith is not a hallmark of this company.

Then, there is still the question of the reduced quantity of they're seeking approval for. So, they have gone from 648,000 gallons per day to "just" 348,480 gallons a day (127,195,200 gal per year). That is still a powerful amount of "our" water and no place in Atkinson for it to go, except out of town.

Don't be fooled by the reduced request. HAWC's own documentation doesn't support the need for this much more water for Atkinson's residents. And try as may to explain away a 33% water loss with smoke and mirrors, they still have a 33% water lost, twice the DES's own limit.

This whole thing needs to be stopped in its tracks and the DES told they need to respect the will of people. We know what is best for us, not a set of unelected bureaucrats in Concord.

Anonymous said...

Cant we just assign a per gallon town fee that makes it prohibitive for them to pump any water?

Anonymous said...

Please, show up tonight!

If the DES doesn't see interest by locals, they'll assume no one is interested.