Fire District voters want more information on $5.5 million request
Voters told Wareham Fire District officials to gather more data before they could sign off on a $5.5 million treatment system to remove chemicals from the water supply.
On Monday, 128 residents participated in the Wareham Fire District’s Annual Meeting where voters approved a $12.5 million water treatment plant. However, the $5.5 million request, which would have added a treatment measure in the new plant, was sent to further study.
According to Wareham Water District Superintendent Andrew Reid, the $5.5 million system is needed to remove pesticides, fuel additives and other chemicals from the water supply. Reid said low levels of a variety of chemicals have been detected at least three times over the past 15 years by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Many voters disputed the need for the additional treatment system without more information, questioning if it was required at all.
Before the vote, resident Barry Cosgrove peppered Reid with a series of questions that established the chemicals are more than likely due to pesticides used in nearby cranberry bogs.
Cosgrove attempted to introduce a measure that, if adopted, would have sought to recover the cost of the treatment system from the cranberry growers.
Moderator Peter Balzarini rejected the measure, saying it was outside the scope of the original item to be decided. Therefore, the measure was not allowed under state law.
Resident Todd Smith stepped forward to challenge the logic of having taxpayers foot the bill for treating the chemicals without finding out who is responsible.
“If you have a real, clear and present. health threat, something as dangerous that requires spending $5.5 million, you need to figure out who these polluters are,” said Smith. “If there’s not a clear and present risk, you need to think about the need to charge the taxpayers.”