Exeter needs more time on Tooleville connection report

Exeter and the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association wait on a full feasibility study before taking next steps in consolidation

EXETER –  The process of connecting Tooleville’s water system to Exeter’s, which would relieve the small community of water supply and contamination issues that have affected residents since at least 1978, still has a long way to go before any changes can take place. 

At a Feb. 22 Exeter City Council meeting, city manager Adam Ennis said that a feasibility study on the project is needed before much of the planning can begin. He added that the study will be done by Provost and Pritchard.

“That’s really a lot of what we’re waiting on. A whole lot of the real meat in this thing is going to come out of that feasibility study,” Ennis said. 

Some aspects of the project that the study will shed light on include infrastructure needs as well as milestones and timelines. Ennis said that a preliminary cost estimate of the project done by an outside consultant came out to upwards of $12 million. 

In August, Exeter was informed by the state that the city had six months to work through voluntary negotiation discussions in regards to a consolidation and report back. As the six month deadline approaches, Exeter plans to submit a joint report with the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association, largely based on a draft report sent to Exeter by the association on Feb. 18. 

“The only thing is that the report doesn’t have milestones and timelines in it, which is one of the things that the state wanted,” Ennis said. “And one of the reasons it doesn’t have it is that the feasibility study hasn’t been completed. That’s going to dictate a whole lot of the milestones and timelines.”

Ennis said water production and storage would need to be ramped up for Exeter to even have enough water to supply Tooleville’s needs. Meanwhile, residents of the unincorporated community are still dependent on bi-weekly drinking water deliveries and must boil any water that comes out of their taps due to leaks in the water system that allows dangerous bacteria to seep into it. 

Ennis said there is currently no estimate as to when a feasibility study on the project will be completed. 

The State Water Resources Control Board has not offered a formal reaction but does not seem bothered by running over the plans deadline – today, Feb. 24 – according to Ennis. 

“I haven’t been overly concerned because they don’t seem to be overly concerned about it either,” Ennis said. “There’s a lot more to this [feasibility study].”

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