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Lunenburg Revisiting Pact to Provide Water to Lancaster

September 20, 2018

By Mina Corpuz

mcorpuz@sentinel andenterprise.com

LUNENBURG -- Following years of discussion and previous efforts, officials from the Lunenburg Water District and Lancaster hope to sign an agreement for the district to provide water to support development in the northern part of town.

“I think it was clear that pretty much everyone was in agreement that they would support it,” said Water District Superintendent Fran McNamara.

The district’s Water Board of Commissioners and the Board of Selectmen will meet Sept. 26 at the district’s office at 50 Lesure Ave. at 7 p.m. They will revisit an intermunicipal agreement between the district and Lancaster, he said.

Lancaster would like to sign an agreement to bring public water and sewer service in the northern part of town, an area that is the target of economic development, said Planning Director Noreen Piazza.

“Without water or sewer service, it’s very difficult to attract businesses,” she said.

Currently, private wells serve a Dunkin’ Donuts and a gas station expected to open on Lunenburg Road, Piazza said, but those wells won’t be able to support the amount of development the town envisions for the area. There’s about 400 acres of developable land in that area, she said.

Bringing water to the area would cost about $8 million, Piazza said.

A water line would start by the Lunenburg and Lancaster town line, continue down Lunenburg Road, go under Route 2, and near Kimball Farm where it could go to the development, she said.

The goal is to have an agreement signed by the end of the year so that Lancaster can seek designs for the project and apply for a MassWorks state infrastructure grant next August to help construct water lines, Piazza said.

An intermunicipal agreement with the water district would be the lowest cost alternative to connect an existing public water supply system, according to a 2017 water supply and wastewater assessment prepared by firm Weston and Sampson.

The water district is interested in the agreement because it would help generate revenue, McNamara said. That money could be used to make repairs to the Lunenburg water system.

Lancaster is asking for 185,000 gallons per day, he said. Businesses would pay the town and Lancaster would pay the district. McNamara said rates wouldn’t be less than the ones Lunenburg residents pay for their water.

Rates, term limits to the agreement, and responsibilities will be defined in the agreement.

As part of selling water to Lancaster, the district will have to get a new withdrawal permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, McNamara said.

Currently, the permit covers the amount of water taken from wells for Lunenburg residents, he said. The district has begun the process to apply for a new permit to increase how much water it can draw.

Previous efforts to provide water to Lancaster were not successful.

In 2015, the water district wanted to expand into the town. Voters in the district initially voted to support that, but later reversed their vote.

A year later, the commissioners began negotiations to form an intermunicipal agreement.

Piazza said since then the town has been refining the agreement to fit with development goals for the area. It also hasn’t come up for a vote with Lancaster’s Board of Selectmen.

This time around, McNamara is hopeful that the district can approve an agreement.

“We’ll take the agreement that is in draft form,” he said, “and see if anybody has any issues and work to come up with something everyone is happy with.”

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz

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