By Katina Caraganis
ASHBY -- Selectmen voted Wednesday night to put two articles on the annual Town Meeting warrant that would tie town-owned buildings now being serviced by the Town Common well, which is failing according to state standards, into the elementary school's well.
The Department of Environmental Protection has determined there are elevated amounts of iron and manganese in the well water and prolonged exposure could pose health risks to small children and the elderly.
The board had looked at other options, including hooking up to other wells in town or drilling for a new well in the same general area as the existing well.
Selectman Mike McCallum said he and Planning Board member Alan Pease had done some legwork in speaking with the DEP and other environmental groups about cost-effective solutions for the town's failing well.
"It sounds like there's lots of things that can be done," he said, noting they met with the region's local DEP representative recently in Worcester. "I felt she was being very reasonable."
He said after meeting with her, it was determined the best option for the town is to tie into the well servicing Ashby Elementary School or tapping into the well at the library and piping it to the town center, McCallum said.
After their discussions with representatives from DEP, McCallum said it seemed as though drilling a new well was not needed as they first had thought.
He said DEP has determined the elementary school's well is fine and could handle the necessary buildings, including the Congregational Church, the Legion, the Grange Hall, and the police station.
"We have to get a pipe from here to there and that involves bringing it through people's property," McCallum said.
He said the town can bring the necessary piping needed through the back of the property, which would eliminate the need of inconveniencing many people.
He said it's likely the town would need to get some sort of easement from resident Rene Rainville, who owns property next to Town Hall because the pipe would cross his property.
McCallum said he's talked with Rainville, and while no specifics were agreed to, it didn't appear Rainville had an issue with it and would allow the easement.
Pease and McCallum also met with representatives from the organization Mass. Rural Water to discuss grants and loans for small water sources like this one. The grant programs are funded through the United States Department of Agricultural.
"We are trying to nail down how much money we can get from the USDA. We're trying to get it so the taxpayers are only paying for the portions that are getting water," McCallum said. "We're in the process of putting together a package that is affordable."
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