Concord and Bow see different levels of progress with possible water expansion

FILE - In this Friday Jan. 7, 2011, file photo, water flows from a water fountain at the Boys and Girls Club in Concord.

FILE - In this Friday Jan. 7, 2011, file photo, water flows from a water fountain at the Boys and Girls Club in Concord.

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 03-11-2024 6:49 PM

Concord and the town of Bow are both eyeing a potential expansion of the public water supply outside the city, but the progress on an agreement between the two communities depends on the vantage point.

In December, the city council approved spending $68,000 in federal grant money to conduct a study to sell water to communities outside of Concord and have them pay a portion for the water supply they receive. The results of the study expected in spring will determine if Concord has the supply and the desire to provide water to neighboring towns.

In Bow, Town Manager David Stack identified the vote as a significant step forward between the two communities to get a deal done to bring municipal water services to the southern end of town, including an area known as Bow Junction, where multiple businesses and auto dealers are located.

Not so fast, Concord officials said. They reiterated that no formal agreement had been reached and the study was simply a tool to gather more information.

“We’ve had interest expressed by Bow over a number of years. The town of Pembroke also has expressed some interest and so we’re looking at the possibility of taking a regional approach to water supply,” said Mayor Byron Champlin at last week’s city council meeting. “But at this juncture, there is no agreement.”

After years of discussion, Bow saw the study as progress that would yield an eventual agreement to extend water lines to help with localized contamination.

In an interview with the Monitor last month, Stack said that Concord had agreed to work with Bow on linking its water system and was discussing the parameters.

“There’s not an agreement and I told the selectmen in the last meeting,” Stack Monday, clarifying his earlier comments. “We’re in the talking stages. We’ve been allowed to do that. But there’s no agreement.”

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For more than 40 years, Bow has attempted to extend its water main and connect it to Concord’s water system to supply water to areas with poor water quality like Bow Mills, Bow South Street, and Bow Junction. The water quality in these areas is affected due to contamination from a gasoline additive called Methyl tertiary-butyl Ether (MtBE). The presence of MtBE is frequently related to leaking underground gasoline storage tanks.

If Concord and Bow reach an agreement, it will involve creating a loop in the current water main, starting from the town line where it connects with the city of Concord’s water supply. The loop will extend along Route 3A and provide a service line to the area near the Grappone auto dealerships along the Interstate 93/Interstate 89 interchange in Bow.

Bow Selectman Matthew Poulin, who is on the committee that is looking into the water expansion project, went a step further than Stack and said an agreement had been reached. When asked about those statements, he declined to comment.

A draft agreement Concord received from Bow was dated 2019 and signed by select board member Christopher Nicolopoulos. However, Thomas Aspell, city manager said that it has not been addressed or presented before the city council for approval.

“Bow has went out and hired their own engineers and a private company to do the work and we gave them all the information we have in our system,” said Aspell. “That’s all that’s been going on and there’s no discussions going on now that I’m aware of.”

The information was shared with Bow over a year ago with the intent that it could investigate whether it was possible to connect to Concord’s system.

Poulin is on the ballot for another term on the select board and running against three other candidates.