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January 10, 2013

Water costs dominate Merrimac agenda

MERRIMAC — The supply, distribution and, most of all, the cost of Merrimac’s drinking water remains at the top of the agenda for town officials.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen, local resident Jim Trott reappeared with the results of the research on water revenues he had offered to perform at an earlier meeting.

Sounding less than hopeful, Trott said he had been in contact with the water pollution abatement trust fund, which will reportedly vote on Merrimac’s application next week.

“We’ll have to look elsewhere for a grant, though,” said Trott. He noted that Salisbury recently received $20 million in grants and Newburyport has also received millions, “but by comparison, it seems like we here in Merrimac are a nonentity.”

“The criteria for grants is based on population and what percentage is moderate or low-income,” explained Selectman Laura Mailman. “The demographics just don’t work for us the way they do in those communities.”

“We have reached out to our representatives,” said Selectman Ricky Pinciaro, “and the only advice they gave us was to move forward with the Town Square project, so this is really water under the bridge at this point.”

Trott suggested that it may be time for the board to go to state officials and “tell them it’s time they helped our town.”

“As a board and as a town, this is where we need to get active,” he added.

Selectmen Chairman Earl Baumgardner responded, “We’ve never made much headway on this issue with our representatives, but we’ve been mandated by the state to fix problems that were ignored for years by prior town officials.”

“We keep trying to go back to the well,” echoed Pinciaro, with yet another watery reference.

Mailman put the issue in perspective by explaining that there are thresholds which must be met to even qualify to apply for municipal grants.

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