Hyde Park village residents have overwhelmingly approved nearly $4.3 million in bonds to improve their water system, two years after the state said there was not enough pressure in the system.

The vote, held Oct. 16, was 74-6 in favor, just under 20 percent of registered village voters. Broken down on an individual basis, each yes vote was responsible for nearly $58,000 of the project.

The utility aims to complete the project next year, said its manager, Carol Robertson.

This is just the first phase of a project; it will install 10,000 feet of new 8-inch and 12-inch-diameter water mains, upgrade the booster pump station and expand the water tank located on Fitch Hill.

Phase two would include replacing the storage tank and numerous smaller pipes; that work is not included in the bond, and would be financed from reserve funds.

The total cost of phase 1 is $4,267,000. With Hyde Park’s median household income of $73,500, the state drinking water fund offers zero-percent interest loans with no administrative cost to the town, saving $1 million in project costs. The bond will add an estimated $40 per year, on average, to a village customer’s utility bill.

In 2017, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation said the Hyde Park system had inadequate water pressure, an issue that needed corrective action.

Problems cited include cast-iron pipes that break frequently, inadequate cover that can lead to frozen pipes, and inadequate flow for fire emergencies.

Because of the system’s deficiencies, the state amended the water system’s operating license, requiring that the improvements be finished by the end of 2020, said Patrick Smart, an engineer with the state drinking water division, at an informational meeting the week before the bond vote.

Those improvements are required with or without the assistance of a municipal bond.

The utility now has a pair of Dec. 1 deadlines to meet — one this year and one next year — for the agency to find that “continued operation of the water system does not constitute a public health hazard or a significant public health risk.”

First, it has to submit a construction permit application by Dec. 1 of this year. The construction itself has to be finished by Dec. 1, 2020.


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