Voter approval sought for $2 million water service bond

Ballots for the Nov. 3 general election will be mailed to all registered voters in Vermont at the end of September. In addition to the choices for U.S. president, Vermont governor and the makeup of the state legislature, Williston voters will also see a local $2 million bond question on the ballot. 

Town administrators are asking for voter authorization to borrow up to $2 million for a water service project in the Lamplite Lane neighborhood. 

The selectboard approved the bond question last week at the recommendation of Town Manager Erik Wells and Public Works Director Bruce Hoar. It will cover upgrades to the water lines at Lamplite Lane and surrounding side streets — a project that has been a priority for the town since a 2018 stormwater upgrade revealed leaks and irregularities in the neighborhood’s piping. 

If approved, the $2 million local commitment will help attract a grant of up to $1 million from the state’s drinking water fund, Wells said. The cost of the debt to water rate-payers will be mitigated by the state funding. Passing a local bond is a prerequisite of applying for the state funds, Wells said. 

“We need to upgrade the infrastructure there, and this is an opportunity to get more funding for the project,” he said. “The more funding we get, that would reduce the impact on the rate-payers.”

While working on a stormwater project in the neighborhood, public works staff found the location of water lines to be inconsistent with their drawings. 

“We found valves that we had no idea what they were for,” Hoar said. 

Many pipes are buried shallower than they should be, causing occasional frozen pipes, he added. In winter, some residents are asked to run water continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.