On January 25, 2023

Public hearing for Killington’s new water system outlines scope, mitigation requirements

By Polly Mikula

The town of Killington hosted an environmental review public hearing for its proposed public water system as part of its regular Select Board meeting on Monday, Jan. 23.

“It’s a brand new public drinking water system for the town and includes all the elements of source, transmission, pumping, storage and distribution,” explained Wayne Elliot of Aldrich and Elliot Consultants, who is managing the system planning for the town and made a powerpoint presentation at the hearing.

“It is very difficult to find a good reliable source, especially with this quantity of water and the proximity to the surface area, which is why that area along Route 4 to the East is really great,” he said. “The other thing is that the water down there is non-detect for PFAS — the water quality is excellent, which is what you’re looking for the long term for the town.”

However, in order for that water source to serve the needs of the new Six Peaks Village then continue down Killington Road, “there’s a lot of piping and pumping… pretty high pressures to get it up to the storage reservoir,” Elliot said, adding, “One thing that’s really unique about this water system is that once you get into the storage reservoir, it’s gravity-fed in the northerly direction [down Killington Road] … So once we get it to storage reservoirs, it’s really very simple to operate: we’re able to work with topography and the elevation… that makes it much more cost effective to operate in the long term.”

Elliot noted that the project “is larger in scope than normal public water system projects” because it’s a brand new public drinking water system and because it requires pumping and piping water a long distance.

Because of the project size and diversity of skills required for various components, construction will be segmented into several contracts and extend over multiple years, Elliot explained.

In Contract No. 1, water will be conveyed from the Valley Wells located along Route 4 through a 20-inch pipe to a new Well House located adjacent to the wells, then connected to the high service pump Station, he explained.

Contracts 2, 3A and 3B will be focused on transmission, with three main segments: conveying water from the valley wells and well house on Route 4 to the high service pump station on Route 4, then to the 750,000 gallon Shagback Mountain storage tank (above ground), and then from the storage tank to the start of the distribution system near the Grand Hotel.

“From the high service pump station on the westerly side of Route 4, there’s going to be almost 10,000 feet of 16-inch water line is going to run south and west up to the new 750,000 gallon storage reservoir — this is Shagback Mountain,” Elliot explained.

He later explained that while the piping would all be underground, the well house, pump house and reservoir would be “at grade.”

The reservoir, he estimated, would be “about 24-30 feet high,” and be “made of compressed concrete with a concrete cover,” he said, adding that the reservoir is located in a densely wooded area and clearing will be kept to a minimum.

“Then there’s a separate ancillary piece, which we’re calling contract 6B, that is part of the town reconstruction at Killington Road from the intersection of Route 4 and 100 South,” up the road to Anthony Way. “There’s about 1,000 feet of 8-inch water line pipe that’s going to be installed as part of that… that’s going to be a dry pipe [prepped] for final development.”

Mitigation

All projects that receive federal funds are required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That includes both the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and its Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

To comply, the state’s environmental review process considers nine categories:

  • Environmental justice
  • Cultural, historic and archaeological resources
  • Land use
  • Intergovernmental review of federal programs
  • Wetlands, floodplains, coastal zones, wild and scenic rivers
  • Fish and wildlife, and endangered species
  • Drinking water and groundwater protection
  • Air quality, noise, and emissions
  • NEPA related considerations

“We’re having to address issues or concerns about bass, migratory birds, butterflies, drinking water, groundwater protection,” explained Elliot. The state is also “concerned about impacts to existing water supplies, subsurface contamination, air quality and noise emissions,” Elliot added.

Among the main environmental concerns is the 2,150 linear feet of new watermain installed in the Class II wetland that runs along the Ottauquechee River and Route 4.

“It’s crosses the river at the narrowest point,” Elliot said. “Much of this is going to be installed by directional boring — that’s a method of construction (versus open trenching) that’s really going to minimize any kind of impacts… which is pretty standard for any river crossing.”

More specifically, directional boring is a minimal impact trenchless method of installing underground utilities such as pipe in a relatively shallow arc or radius underground using a surface-launched drilling rig, according to Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI). The technique is routinely used when minimal surface disturbance is required, according to PRCI.

“We’re not digging up the river,” Selectman Jim Haff summarized.

The general conclusion from a previously issued wetland permit for the area was that the “proposed project will not result in an undue adverse impact to this function,” Elliot summarized at the hearing.

Timeline

Emily Hackett, from the state’s Watershed Investment Division, explained that after the hearing Elliot will finalize the environment information document (EID) then submit it to town to sign, then submit that to her department, which will in turn fill out paperwork.

“Our paperwork will have mitigation measures in place that need to occur during construction,” Hackett said at the hearing.

Likely strategies could include the use of a wildlife biologist to determine safety of tree removal and the consideration of nesting and migration seasons, Elliot said.

The Watershed Investment Division will also prepare a “responsiveness summary” to comments that need to be addressed after the 30-day comment period. “Once that’s complete we can issue the Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI),” Hackett said.

FONSI is the final determination the town needs to proceed with its water system plan.

Public comment or questions can be submitted directly to Aldrich and Elliot Consultants: welliott@aeengineers.com, the town manager: manager@killingtontown.com or Hackett at the state’s Watershed Investment Division: Emily.hackett@vermont.gov.

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