Water connections for Litchfield, other areas secured via Merrimack River project

MERRIMACK – A new year-round water supply will be available to residents of Litchfield, as well as some customers in Londonderry, Windham, Pelham and Hudson.

Monday, officials at the Pennichuck Water Service Corp. headquarters in Merrimack cut the ribbon on the new project. It involves connecting the Pennichuck Water Works system in Merrimack via an under-river crossing of the Merrimack River to the Pennichuck East Utility system in Litchfield.

The project was financed with a $2.4 million loan from the New Hampshire Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, $900,000 in loans from commercial lenders and a $600,000 grant from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund. That trust fund is supplied by the $236 million settlement the state received from ExxonMobil Corp. in 2015 from contamination from MTBE, a gasoline additive.

New Hampshire state Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, is chairman of the state Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission.

“This project is critical to delivering an ample supply of clean drinking water to those across the river in Litchfield living with contaminated wells,” Morse said during the ceremony. “I would like to thank Pennichuck for making this project a reality and it is my hope that the commission will continue to leverage the Trust Fund so we can continue to invest in projects like this for many years to come.”

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Bob Scott: “The project shows how the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program and the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund can work collaboratively to help water systems address unanticipated demands placed on their systems.”

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program began in 1996 through the Safe Drinking Water Act administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As the actual costs of the project exceeded the available DWSRF and commercial loan funding, the Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission approved a $600,000 grant from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund, enabling Pennichuck to complete the project.

“The work on the pipeline installation was completed this summer and upon construction of an upgrade to a booster station the new water supply will be operational by the end of this year,” Pennichuck CEO Larry Goodhue said. “We already had another seasonal water connection to that side of the river in south Nashua, but this new interconnection will allow us to provide water year-round to our customers on the east side of the river, including those that were added in the last 12 to 18 months.”

Those new customers include residents of approximately 400 homes that were connected to public water as a result of the PFOA contamination from the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack. Residents with private wells had agreed to public water connections when PFOA readings higher than 70 parts per trillion were found in their wells after Saint-Gobain announced high readings at its Merrimack plant.

“The 400 customers with high PFOA readings increased the water capacity needs on that side of the river above the available supply of water from our current available sources, so the investment in this new water main became an economic reality,” Goodhue said.

The project will also provide public water for Litchfield throughout the year.

“It allows us to provide water to the other side of the river, 365 days a year, as the new water main will not be subject to freezing conditions like the pre-existing river crossing main in south Nashua,” Goodhue said. “This connection was done to allow us to increase our ability to provide full capacity to customers we serve on the east side of the river. It was determined to be the most cost effective way to meet all water capacity requirements for new and existing customers in those communities.”

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