by Lisa Tome
Although Rising Sun has plans to provide water for additional customers once they connect with Chester Water Authority, there are no firm deals in place.
That's what Rising Sun town administrator Calvin Bonenberger said last week.
Within about a month, by the second week in April, work will get underway connecting Rising Sun to Chester Water Authority. The notice to award the bid will come, that will be followed by the notice to proceed.
Chester Water gets its water from Octoraro Reservoir and the Susquehanna River. They are allotted 60 million gallons per day.
They will build a pipeline seven miles long with 16-inch pipe and 12-inch pipe to the state line.
Rising Sun will be responsible for construction from the state line to the 400 block of North Walnut Street, in the area of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The line will run through the dog park, along the east side of Mount Street, crosses Mount Street. It will also run on the north side of the former Frapple property, and will extend to Red Pump and Ridge roads to Fremont Road to the Pennsylvania line.
Bonenberger said those along the route will not be obligated to connect to the water line.
The town will have a 30 year service agreement with five year renewals and 36 months for cancellation.
Initially, Chester Water will provide 170,000 gallons per day, that will adjust to 340,000 gallons then quantities will be adjusted every five years. The 30 year peak quantity is 1.8 million gallons. The current rate per thousand gallons is $3.11. Six months notice is required for rate hikes.
The connection charge will be $5,808,574. The town will receive a rebate of $1.5 million when construction is completed. The town will also be credited $525,000 due to the 16-inch pipe. Chester Water can't compete with Rising Sun to sell water in incremental miles over the years. The total project is expected to cost $10.5 million. The town received word that they will receive a $1 million grant from the USDA and $500,000 from Maryland Department of the Environment. "We have $9 million in financing but it could be cheaper. When we negotiated that is a walk away number," said Bonenberger.
A decade from now water rates are projected to $120.45 in 2026. Bonenberger said that the Maryland pipeline will stretch approximately 2.7 miles long.
Bonenberger said he is aware that there are allegations in the community that he has an affiliation with Chester Water Authority. "I'm not associated with Chester Water Authority. I never served on their board of directors," said Bonenberger. He also said he owns no land along the construction route and doesn't have family members affiliated with Chester Water.
As of last week, the town has finalized no deals to provide water for anyone. There are possibilities. The town has talked to Southern States regarding providing water to projects impacted by that company, but nothing has been made official. That means that the current water customers will be responsible for footing the bill for the water.
"Someone has expressed interest in Wellington Manor. We have no land development applications. We have had a lot of inquiries," said Bonenberger. He said of those inquiries, 75 percent are from those who want to develop existing buildings where there are already connections.
"It's important to note that explosive residential development is not in the best interest of the community," said Bonenberger. He said the focus is commercial development which will bring jobs.
The pipeline is expected to be completed in October or November of this year. The first two years of payments from the town are interest only. "The real concern for our water rates will be five years from now if we don't get this economic engine up and running. Water is a long term investment. We're excited by it. We're seeing a lot of interest in our state of the art sewer and water," said Bonenberger.