May 30, 2020

New waterworks group making plans in Lucerne

LUCERNE — Two weeks after the town officially formed the Lucerne Water Works Association, the new board of directors on Monday discussed the next steps needed to meet local residents’ water needs.

Board members were joined by Steve Levy, executive director of the Maine Rural Water Association, and state Rep. Joseph B. Taylor, R-Cumberland, who sits on the Legislature’s Utilities and Energy Committee. Levy and Taylor were instrumental in developing the association.

The nonprofit association is asking for a membership fee to pay for “initial operating fees,” including attorney fees and mailing costs, said Tim Donovan, secretary-treasurer. “We have 18 members who have joined,” Donovan said. “At $25 apiece, that’s a whopping $450.”

Talk of starting the association began after inconsistent chlorine levels and incidents of elevated bacteria levels showed up in state tests last year.

President Roger Tracy worked out a plan with the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Human Services and the Maine Rural Water Association to keep the town’s water company afloat until the Lucerne Water Works Association could be formed.

The greatest challenge facing the water works association is acquiring ownership of the Lucerne Water Co. from its present owner, Ed Lunt, Tracy said.

“We have a verbal purchase price agreed on,” Tracy said. “Now we just need something in writing.”

Levy said that the association should draw up a document for Lunt that would petition the Public Utilities Commission for abandonment of the water company and transfer of funds to the association.

“Ultimately, the transfer must be approved by the PUC,” Levy said.

Levy cautioned the board to move slowly with its proceedings, however.

“You need to remember this will be a marathon, not a sprint,” Levy said. “The water problems happened over time and therefore will be solved over time.”

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