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State DES lifts moratorium on Aquarion Water

By Steve Jusseaume

HAMPTON - Aquarion Water Co. received written notification from the state Department of Environmental Services last this month that a long-standing moratorium on new-service connections has been lifted.

"We received confirmation from the DES that they have granted our request to lift the new-service moratorium imposed on Aquarion Water Co.’s operations," said Brian Goetz, the water company’s operations manager, in a prepared statement. "This good news had been made possible through Aquarion’s aggressive operational efforts and capital programs over the past 10 years."

According to Goetz, the company has added six groundwater sources of supply, implemented an effective source-management program, and initiated conservation efforts to address water-use issues.

The state initially issued the moratorium in April 1995 and then briefly lifted it in 1999 after the water company added four new sources of supply to its system. After a summer of drought that same year, however, the DES put the moratorium back into place.

It’s not yet known what effect the moratorium’s lifting will have in the communities in Aquarion’s service area - Hampton, North Hampton and Rye Beach.

Hampton Planning Board Chairman Tom Gillick, however, said it’s not likely to affect development here drastically. Gillick noted that many projects in town apply for permission to dig wells. For example, a development at Hampton Harbor and an elderly housing project downtown both have applied to the DES for permission to dig wells as an alternative to hooking up with Aquarion.

According to Goetz, the company responded to the moratorium by developing new water sources in 1997 that added approximately 500,000 gallons-per-day capacity to the water system. In 1998, three new bedrock wells were put on line, which added 650,000 gallons-per-day capacity. Last year the company developed and permitted two new bedrock wells, adding 520,000 gallons-per-day capacity.

Also, the company has redeveloped most of its 10 existing water source wells.

"The supply on our water system since 1995 has totaled approximately three millions gallons per day," said Goetz.

Under the moratorium, Aquarion was allowed to supply new service only to pre-approved projects and "fill-in" of the system that it already served, Goetz explained. Any expansion of the system, however, was prohibited.

For instance, Aquarion was not permitted to supply the domestic water needs of a new housing subdivision. It could, however, serve new housing projects with fire-protection service, since fire protection is not a "consumptive" use.

Goetz said he has communicated with the planning boards in the three towns Aquarion serves about the moratorium lifting.

Also, he said, the company "will provide opinions regarding (its) ability to serve any new projects. This will help us do our best to be proactive in serving the current and future needs of our customers."