Exeter requests six-week extension on Tooleville connection plan

The Exeter City Council sends request to the State Water Board for a six-week extension on consolidation negotiations with Tooleville

TOOLEVILLE – Negotiations for Tooleville’s consolidation with Exeter’s water system may be set back another six weeks as Exeter pushes for more state funding.

The Exeter City Council continued the discussion of the joint Tooleville Mutual Non-Profit Water Association/City of Exeter Voluntary Consolidation Negotiation at their June 8 meeting during which they voted to make a request for a six week extension to the State Water Resources Control Board.

This is the latest extension request since the original February 2022 deadline set by the State Water Board in August 2021 as the Exeter City Council and Tooleville Mutual Non-Profit Water Association continue negotiations of a full consolidation of the Exeter water system with Tooleville.

“There are improvements necessary for Exeter’s water system to be able to make a sustainable connection with Tooleville,” said Exeter City Administrator Adam Ennis. “The water system will be more vulnerable and susceptible to long-term problems if we don’t make those improvements.”

In December 2021, the state offered financial incentives to Exeter if they could come to terms with Tooleville for consolidation by February 2022 including a $10 million, 0% interest loan for updating their own water system. However, negotiations have continued to push back the deadline.

While the Exeter City Council has budgeted $2 million for capital improvement projects to update their water and sewage systems, those projects are set to take place over a number of years. According to Ennis, Exeter will need approximately $12 million from the state to make the immediate improvements necessary for the consolidation to happen as soon as possible.

Last December, when Tooleville residents went to the State Water Board about the issues with their drinking water, they requested help with a consolidation with Exeter after Exeter turned down their request in September 2019. By August of 2021 the state gave Tooleville and Exeter six months to reach an agreement for voluntary consolidation. If that fails, the residents of Tooleville may pursue mandatory consolidation under State Bill 403, a proactive water solutions bill passed in September 2021.

Tooleville has been without clean drinking water for decades, forcing residents to rely on water deliveries from the state. They have been pushing for consolidation with Exeter for over a decade. The issue is that cancer-causing chrom-6 occurs naturally in Tooleville’s water due to the erosion of natural chromium deposits in rocks, plants, soil and decomposed animals. A consolidation with Exeter’s water system has been their best hope for access to clean drinking water.

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