Bethel to vote on $12.3 million water treatment project Dec. 1

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The date was set at a special town meeting, attended by about 25 people, last Thursday.

The proposed plant would be located north of Joe Freebairn Field near the intersection of Plumtrees and Walnut Hill Roads and would allow the city to replace groundwater currently used for its water system with well water.

Of the roughly $12.3 million needed for the project, nearly $10 million would be for construction, about $1.8 million for professional services, about $499,000 for contingencies, and $16,000 for legal fees.

Not all Bethel ratepayers would bear the cost — only those who get city water, according to acting first coach Rich Straiton, who said there were 3,500 city water users. in Bethel.

Straiton said their water rates would go up, but it’s not yet clear to what extent the city is “requesting over $3 million in subsidies, which will help reduce costs.”

The project is part of a 30-year capital improvement plan the city launched after voters rejected a proposal to sell Bethel’s water system to Aquarion in 2013.

Since then, the city has constructed two new storage tanks, drilled two new wells, renovated a few existing wells, and renovated virtually all pumping systems. Part of the work involved the 2016 completion of the 750,000 gallon Eureka Water Storage Reservoir, which allowed the city to move forward with plans to expand Clarke Business Park.

According to Straiton, the well on the Bergstrom property would produce 800 gallons of water per minute, which is “much better suited to public water supply.”

“Well water is much better than groundwater from reservoirs,” he said earlier this month, noting that wells provide “a more consistent source of water” compared to reservoirs, which can produce considerably less water during periods of drought.

Bethel voters will have from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 1 to vote at their designated polling places on the financing.

If approved, construction on the project is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 and take approximately two years.

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