Published in the June 8, 2017 edition
By BILL LAFORME
NORTH READING – Voters took a significant step toward becoming part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority system at Monday night’s Town Meeting. Following up on previous town meeting votes that authorized joining the MWRA and which also approved planning, design and land acquisition for the project, residents Monday night voted to bond $8.22 million for the tasks of constructing a pump station as well as system improvements that will be needed in both North Reading and Reading.
The pump station will cost about $2.55 million, with the North Reading water system improvements expected to cost $1 million. The $4.67 million cost of upgrades on the Reading side are required because in order to bring water into North Reading via Reading, the capacity in that area will have to be increased.
Voters approved joining the MWRA because the town’s future water needs are expected to outgrow the current supply and because the MWRA was seen as providing more stability and cost-effectiveness in the long term. The MWRA website reports that it currently provides water to 61 communities in the metropolitan Boston area – about 2.5 million residents and 5,500 large industrial users.
During discussion of the warrant article, Selectman Steve O’Leary provided a look at the upcoming timetable for the water project. With the pump station site having been acquired earlier this year, permitting and design work remain underway with an eye on filing an environmental impact report with the state. North Reading also reportedly expects to reach an inter-municipal agreement with Reading around late summer or early fall, with bidding on construction anticipated around late fall. From there, construction would reportedly begin in April of 2018, to be completed by July 1, 2019. The town’s wells would also be decommissioned in 2020.