BELMONT – Voters passed all of the articles on the ballot with the exception of Question 2, which would have appropriated $3.1 million for an iron and manganese treatment facility. A $1.5 million grant from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund would have covered almost half of the cost, and the town would have bonded $1.6 million with a low-interest loan, with the payments to be split between water user fees and general taxation.
Passage required a 3/5 majority vote, but the article did not even achieve a simple majority.
Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said she had to "shake her head" at the vote, since — despite the cost — the town stood to gain by approving the article. While the state does not regulate iron and manganese levels, it does issue a "maximum contaminant level goal" (MCLG) that is far below the levels shown by the testing of the municipal water supply.
The town's iron content is 9.04 parts per million, while the MCLG is 0.3. The manganese level in Belmont is 0.22, while the MCLG is 0.05.
While it is not considered a health risk at this time, Beaudin said it causes discoloration and tastes bad, and creates a problem for pipes and laundry.
The municipal water system serves 634 households and public buildings.
"We've worked very hard over the past two years, looking into a new source well or treatment of the well we have," Beaudin said. "We were in line for a $1.5 million grant and a low-interest loan. That [grant and loan] program will continue, but the level of funding is likely to go down, with a greater loan-to-grant option."
The other well that voters have discussed in letters to the editor does not produce a sufficient supply for a municipal water system, she added.
Beaudin said the Board of Selectmen will have to discuss the next step, which may involve seeking a grant for the coming year.
"I thought we did a good job of getting the word out," Beaudin said. "We were a good candidate for the funds."
Elections: Contested races: Selectman (1 seat) — Jonathan Pike, 366; Douglas Trottier, 232; Robert A. Veloski, 34. Planning Board (2 seats) — Ward Peterson, 395; Michael LeClair, 355; Richard Pickwick, 299. Uncontested races: Budget Committee — Albert Akerstrom, 467; Tracey LeClair, 469; Ronald Mitchell, 439. Trustee of Trust Funds — Gregg MacPherson, 544. Library Trustee — Diana Johnson, 571. Cemetery Trustee — Diane Marden, 563. Supervisor of the Checklist — Brenda Paquette, 562. Zoning Board of Adjustment — Mark Mastenbrook, 549. Town Clerk/Tax Collector — Cynthia DeRoy, 578. Treasurer — Alicia Segalini, 549.
Operating Budget: $7,696,456.
Water Treatment Facility: 287-342 (Defeated).