Published in the July 27, 2017 edition


NORTH READING – The town of Andover still has several weeks to come up with an impressive enough offer to convince North Reading to reverse course on its plans to join the MWRA water supply.

Selectman Steve O’Leary reported at Monday night’s meeting that he and fellow Selectman Bob Mauceri and other town officials had received an offer from their Andover counterparts that would apparently meet the town’s projected water needs. Over the past several years, North Reading has been taking steps toward joining the MWRA system after being told by Andover that that town would not be able to meet its projected future demand. Andover currently provided about two-thirds of North Reading’s water, with the rest coming from town pumps near the Ipswich River that are set to be retired at the end of the decade.

O’Leary said that Andover is aware that North Reading is in the late stages of moving to the MWRA, and he characterized that town’s latest water offer as “something we should potentially consider looking at.” Andover has been supplying North Reading with a substantial portion of its water for several decades, and the loss of the town’s business in the coming years would be borne by Andover’s ratepayers. O’Leary said the talks with Andover have been “very fruitful” and “very straightforward” and that the town’s offer was more favorable to North Reading than the current plan. “It appears they do have the ability to meet our supply demands,” said O’Leary.

Selectmen are expected to consider Andover’s water proposal at their next meeting on August 21. Andover selectmen are also set to consider the proposal at their own meeting shortly before. North Reading could potentially delay its switch to the MWRA while it reviews Andover’s water capabilities.

Mike Prisco, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, was unimpressed by the prospect of an impressive new offer from Andover. He called it “very frustrating” how Andover had sent North Reading on the path toward an MWRA switch back in 2014, when it said it could not meet the town’s future needs. “We have to know we’re actually voting on something that’s real,” said Prisco, adding that he wants a “clear understanding” of why Andover now feels it can provide North Reading with its water needs. “There has to be some explanation,” said Prisco, warning that the town must not find itself back in the position in the coming years of working to provide for its water needs.