April 23, 2014
By Francesca Kefalas
Financing is in place for a $15.4 million water project that residents will notice every time they drink a glass from the tap.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program has awarded to Putnam a $4.8 million grant and $10.6 million loan, funded by the 2014 Farm Bill’s Rural Development. The funding was announced by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. “We’re happy to finally get the official word that we have the funding,” Putnam Town Administrator Douglas Cutler said. Putnam residents already approved $7.5 million to replace or reline water lines. Cutler said the town realized the need was actually greater and began planning a larger project and sought the funding. Putnam’s water lines are 60 to 100 years old.
The Water Pollution Control Agency has already built the financing of the entire project into its planned rate hikes, Cutler said. But Putnam will still have to go to town meeting and then referendum to have the remainder of the $15.4 million project approved. Approval will not change the rates of users. The town meeting will likely not happen until June, Cutler said. The full project includes installing nearly 43,000 linear feet of new water main, relining more than 9,000 feet of water main, and rehabilitating the Richmond Hill water storage tank. Additionally, 697 lateral connections, 88 fire hydrants and 180 gate valves will be replaced.
“These funds are another step in bringing Putnam’s water system into the 21st century,” Courtney said. “Since 2009, I have worked with town officials to upgrade a system that has lines that are more than 100 years old.” Blumenthal called the loan and grant a “wise use of federal funds.” The project comes on the heels of significant investment into the water supply in Putnam, including drilling seven new wells. The town will also build a manganese treatment plant. Cutler said the first phase of the project is simply waiting for state and federal approval to go out to bid. He said the plan is to start the work this summer.
There are five major priority areas to the project, Cutler said. He said the areas around South Main Street, Laconia Avenue, Mechanic Street, Wilkinson Street and Thompson Avenue are all being targeted. The project will address the fire safety needs of the town, too, Cutler said. Mayor Tony Falzarano has been vocal about the foul taste of water in Putnam. He has said once Putnam completes its infrastructure projects the taste and smell of the water will improve significantly. He thanked Courtney for his help. “Joe Courtney is a great asset to Putnam in helping us secure grants to improve our infrastructure,” Falzarano. “We are indebted to Joe for his hard work and for bringing ‘good stuff’ to Putnam.”April 23rd, 2014