Bow select board explores options to improve water quality and supply 

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 06-22-2023 6:47 PM

Despite more than three decades of efforts, the northern section of Bow continues to struggle with long-standing challenges with its public water supply. Efforts to remedy the issue continue, as town engineers presented a project at a recent select board meeting to address water supply and quality issues while expanding access.

As a part of Bow’s water expansion plan, the town has sought the expertise of DuBois & King, Inc., an engineering consulting firm in Bedford. The company has identified three specific projects as part of its design plan that require a total investment of approximately $15 million.

“We’ve broken the project into smaller pieces based on trying to do the funding,” said Nicholas Sceggell, the company’s project manager. “We didn’t think that the $15 million was something that could happen in one project.”

Most of the population and businesses in Bow depend on well water, but certain areas within the town have been affected by water contamination, leading to poor water quality.

Addressing this issue, the master plan incorporates a project centered on the implementation of a water loop at Bow Junction.

It involves creating a loop in the current water main, starting from the town line where it connects with the city of Concord’s water supply. The loop will extend along Route 3A and provide a service line to the area near the Grappone auto dealerships along the Interstate-93/Interstate-89 interchange in Bow.

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Whether or not this project comes to fruition relies on Concord’s willingness to extend its water services in Bow, a back-and-forth that has been simmering between the two municipalities for more than 40 years.

Former Bow selectmen Harry Judd, who has been involved in the water project discussions since its early stages, said there had been repeated attempts to reach an agreement with Concord throughout his 18-year tenure on the board of selectmen, but none of them have proved successful.

“Some of the decision makers for the city of Concord remained adamant that they would do nothing to help alleviate the problem in Bow Junction because Bow would turn that area into an area of high development, which would be competing with Concord for new businesses,” Judd said about the historic standoff between the two communities.

Several select board members expressed their frustration with the ambiguity surrounding Concord’s readiness to supply water to Bow at last week’s select board meeting.

“It would be irresponsible of us to really depend on Concord; we have to consider all our options, ” said Angela Brennan, a select board member.

In addition to the Bow Junction water loop project, the engineers discussed two other projects.

The first entails improving the water treatment facility, while the second involves extending the municipal water system to the proposed Bow Mills development, which would extend water to Exit 1 and South Street, where the current water quality does not match the minimum criteria for safety.

Even if Concord refuses to extend its water line, Bow has the option of establishing its own water supply independently to service both the Bow Junction and Bow Mills areas.

The only disadvantage if Concord does not consent, according to Town Manager David Stack, is the additional cost strain of creating connections to both areas rather than simply extending the existing line.

“I’ve been working with the city manager and we’re just in the early stages of coming up with potential terms for an agreement,” said Stack. “Hopefully we get an agreement.”

In response to the situation, the company declared its intention to explore alternative methods of bringing clean water to the Bow Junction area.

The Grappone auto group has installed water treatment systems, but they are constantly replacing water tanks and piping because they get corroded due to the presence of sodium and MTBE chemicals discharged into groundwater as a result of leaking fuel tanks, said Stack.

Sceggell noted that the design plan is subject to modifications and that they would update certain components of the plan before presenting it to the select board in a few months.

During the meeting, the focus shifted to project prioritization, and select board member Chris Nicolopoulos emphasized the need of prioritizing the resolution of water supply concerns near the Grappone area where businesses exist today, rather than directing attention towards areas like Exit 1 that might potentially attract future businesses.

“The potential that there might someday be a development over here at Exit 1 is not a priority for me,” said Nicolopoulos. “We have people who don’t have good water today and I’d like to get water to them. They are paying taxes.”

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