Low-interest state loans to help fund $14M water treatment plant in Pelham

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Staff Writer
Published: 5/18/2022 8:40:49 PM
Modified: 5/18/2022 8:39:03 PM

AMHERST — Construction of the new Centennial Water Treatment Plant in Pelham, likely to cost at least $14 million, will be part of the State Revolving Fund program in which the town will receive low-interest loans for the project.

Amherst officials announced Tuesday that the plant will be one of 183 projects across the state receiving $1.3 billion in both loans and grants for building, upgrading or replacing water and wastewater treatment plants, improving water quality, and cutting treatment plant energy use and costs.

When complete, the long-planned project, for which the Town Council approved borrowing in 2020, will provide up to 1 million gallons per day of treated water to Amherst’s drinking water system, replacing an outdated plant that no longer has efficient and effective treatment.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said the plant is primarily a back-up water source for the town, with the main water in town coming from either wells in the Lawrence Swamp in South Amherst or the Atkins Reservoir in Shutesbury and its treatment plant in the Cushman part of town.

But having the Hills and Hawley reservoirs in Pelham back online, Bockelman said, will improve resiliency, sustainability and future development for the town, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College and Hampshire College.

“Providing an adequate supply of clean water to our customers and institutions is one of the most important tasks of the town,” Bockelman said.

The state is also offering to reduce the borrowing rate for Amherst from 2% to 1.5% because it is a Housing Choice community.

“I'm thrilled that the town's longstanding efforts to make significant infrastructure improvements, upgrade its water systems and protect the health of its residents will be supported by this federal and state partnership,” State Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, said in a statement.

The State Revolving Fund financing is administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust and funds projects implemented by cities and towns, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

Meantime, Bockelman, Department Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring and Town Council President Lynn Griesemer recently provided letters and testimony in support of a bill that includes an additional $3.5 million in funding for Centennial. That House Bill is called “An Act in Investing in Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce, and Revitalized Downtowns.”  

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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