Edgecomb selectmen are weighing the pros and cons of joining Wiscasset Water District. Edgecomb has had minimal conversations about joining the district since 2004 and expansion onto Davis Island for a new townhouse development. But the time may be right for both Edgecomb and Wiscasset to seriously pursue it. Wiscasset Water District Manager Chris Cossette told selectmen Sept. 20, the federal grants are available for such infrastructure projects.
“I wouldn’t have been here for the third or fourth time this year if this wasn’t the right time. Funding is available and now is a good time for regional long terming planning,” he said. One immediate benefit of Edgecomb joining the district is it would bring municipal water up Route 27 to the school, fire department and homes. It would also benefit long term regional water plans being conceived by Five Rivers Regional Water District. Boothbay, Wiscasset and Great Salt Bay Water districts are members of the district which also includes Bath, Brunswick-Topsham, Bowdoinham and Richmond districts. Since 2010. the council has worked on plans to connect Boothbay and Great Salt Bay districts to the Brunswick-Topsham district.
Cossette told selectmen the project is an important regional priority. “If it helps one then it helps everyone in the Midcoast. Boothbay and Great Salt Bay are currently isolated. If Edgecomb joined the Wiscasset Water District this would connect them with the entire region,” he said.
Edgecomb Emergency Management Agency Director Bill Witzell represented the fire department during the discussion. He told selectmen Chief Roy Potter supported the expansion. “We’d love to see it come through here. Our only hydrant is on Davis Island so the department uses a truck shuttle for structure fires which isn’t the ideal way,” he said.
Expansion would also provide municipal water to Edgecomb Eddy School. Another benefit would be lower insurance rates for residents. Five Rivers Regional Water Council is working with Jim Lord of Dirigo Engineering on its regionalization project. He told selectmen municipal water is the key factor in a community’s insurance rating. “ISO (insurance services office) is the single biggest factor in lowering your rate. So the whole town would save money,” he said.
Cossette has worked with Boothbay Region Water District Manager Jon Ziegra on the regional project since 2016. The two believe extending Wiscasset’s service into Edgecomb benefits the entire region. By 2050, Boothbay and Great Salt Bay face water distribution problems based on current population growth. Connecting to a larger regional water supply in Tophsam would solve the problem.
If Edgecomb joined the district, it would need to send a letter seeking expansion. Cossette reported his board would approve the request. He added the next steps would be lengthy. “We’re not laying any pipe in the next couple of years. It still needs legislative approval and voter approval in Edgecomb, Wiscasset and Woolwich. If any of the towns vote no, then it’s dead,” he said.
Edgecomb Selectman Mike Smith sees Edgecomb’s benefits as limited and Boothbay as receiving the biggest boost. Smith is concerned the proposal would further aid population expansion goals on the peninsula’s lower end at the expense of Edgecomb. “This doesn’t sit well with me. Our quality of life is constantly being challenged by the endless driving back and forth down (Route) 27,” he said. “I don’t see us being involved with any of their long range planning such as in the new school and population expansion. In the long run, I’m more concerned this will promote more of a traffic problem.”
Selectmen decided to table discussion and possibly decide at their next meeting whether to seek inclusion into Wiscasset Water District. Selectmen meet next at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4 in the town hall.