BELMONT — Selectmen tabled a request this week from the Tilton-Northfield Water District for the town to designate the well-head area of the aquifer under Rte. 140 West as GAA — the highest level of groundwater protection.
Selectmen Jon Pike and Chair Ruth Mooney said they were tabling it because of a lawsuit filed against the town of Belmont by the town of Tilton concerning an alleged failure to properly notify the neighboring town about the public hearings regarding Casella Waste System's request to add a household waste transfer operation at its current recycling and hazardous waste facility located just off the highway.
Tilton residents draw their drinking water from the same aquifer.
Selectman Ron Cormier was unable to attend Monday's meeting, although Pike said yesterday that, in this case, Cormier's absence would not likely have made a difference in the board's decision.
Tilton-Northfield Water District Chair Scott Davis said yesterday that the suit between the town of Tilton and the town of Belmont is not relevant to the water district's request.
"We (the water district) are not part of the town," he said.
Davis said three communities — Tilton, Belmont and Northfield — have an agreement dating to the late 1990s regarding water quality protection and his board just wants to make it a state-accepted agreement with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services.
He said the district's wells are in Northfield, near the boundary with Belmont but the aquifer extends beyond them and does include the Casella property. According to the written request for the meeting, the water district said the upgrade to GAA from the next highest level means enhanced protection of the area including tighter regulations and inspections of activities over it.
Davis said for years the former Tilton-Northfield Aquifer company — a private enterprise — used Knowles Pond for its drinking water but switched to packed (filtered) ground wells in the 1990s.
Should Belmont sign the agreement, as Northfield and Tilton have, it means that existing businesses within the well-head aquifer protections zone can continue to operate but must obtain a Groundwater Release Detection Permit from the DES.
Davis said it would not necessarily eliminated any uses but would subject them to "a broad spectrum of investigations."
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