Fire District voters want more information on $5.5 million request

By Matthew Bernat | Apr 11, 2017

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.”

Comments (7)
Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 11, 2017 05:35

Steve Holmes - "128 residents participated" - "130" was a great guess!

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Apr 11, 2017 11:16

Andrea I was pretty close. For all the reasons you gave under the other thread and so much money at stake, you would have thought there may be a line outside waiting to get in. This issue was covered more than most in recent memory, no one can say there was no notification. As you know I am in Onset and we have great water, but the folks in Wareham have had so many problems over the years, many may have felt that this will help solve those problems.

I do find it interesting that they voted not to implement the second part of the plan to remove the chemicals.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Apr 11, 2017 14:16

These votes should be held as part of the Towns elections. Spending this kind of money should NEVER be authorized by only 128 people in a hall that is stacked with partisans. This is a closed society feeding itself at the expense of the ratepayer. Huge increases in these budgets is just crazy when services are required less and less. Don't give me the call counts as a reason because they are BS and full of blubber.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Apr 12, 2017 08:45

Sphere at TM we require 150 for financial matters and several nights I can recall Claire calling a recess and we had to go out to the parking lot and call people to come so we could get to 150. There have been plenty of suggestions to have these meetings on a Saturday morning. Some other towns do that. Folks had plenty of notification about this, obviously folks were in favor or they would have showed up to vote no. In today's world with all the technology we have we should be able to do this online. You register with a secure name and password, if you as registered to vote, have a cut off date for voting, I believe you would get many more to vote.

Posted by: | Apr 12, 2017 08:55

This should have been at the town meeting.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Apr 12, 2017 10:02

Thanks Steve,  I think that any financial matters, Town or District should be voted on by as many people as possible. Many cannot sit thru multiple nights of Town/District meeting to vote or work and cannot make it. All these items should be placed on a ballot and voted on during the Towns election. People can go to Town/district meeting for discussion and education and the vote takes place on election day after a chance to digest info. Choices on these expenditures should be given back to the people and taken away for the partisan packed halls. This is not small potatoes and has a profound affect on the community.

Posted by: Fossil | Apr 13, 2017 09:58

The bottom line is "Low Levels" found 3 times in 15 years? Doesn't seem that bad to increase taxpayers to foot 5.5 million

"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".

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