New deadline for Dixville Dam
The citizens of Dixville, who are only around seven hundred in number, can breathe a sigh of relief: the environment ministry’s deadline of December 31st, 2012, to do something about the broken dam has been extended by two years. “At first we were told we would receive a fine of $500,000 if we didn’t repair, take down or modify the dam; that certainly gave us a scare,” commented the municipality’s new general manager, Sylvain Benoit. Fortunately, the town was able to find an engineer to investigate the dam before the deadline. “The engineer confirmed that the dam posed no threat. He said it was impossible for it to break or to cause any damage,” added Mr. Benoit.
Although the town had known about the deadline for a couple of years, efforts to find funding to reconstruct the dam were unsuccessful. The council has also been focusing on more pressing matters, such as trying to provide potable water to the sixty-nine households connected to the town water supply. A water treatment plant was built a few years ago at a cost of about $4.5 million, however, dangerous bacteria was found in the treated water and residents had to start boiling their water again. “We are going to have to chlorinate the water. That will be the last phase of the project,” said the general manager. Modifying the treatment plant to chlorinate the water should cost between $150,000 and $200,000, down quite a bit from the original estimate of $500,000.
Property tax bills have risen considerably as a result of the new water treatment plant. The residents hooked up to the new town water supply pay an additional $600 a year to help pay for the partially funded treatment plant while the average tax bill is $3000 per household.
The dam, which was bought by the town many years ago for a dollar, was partially destroyed in a flood in 1998. The town is planning to test the water depth near the dam to see if it merits re-classification and it may have to modify the dam by making it a little lower.