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CHESTERFIELD — A $5.1 million federal-stimulus grant will help pay for the new water-treatment system in Port Kent that no one wanted but had to have.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand jointly announced in a news release that the town would receive a $5,111,400 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and would carry a $100,000 direct loan.
"Quality infrastructure development is critical to the economic health not only of Chesterfield but for all of Essex County," Schumer said.
"This funding will ensure that our water infrastructure is up to snuff to provide safe, quality drinking water to residents and create jobs in the process."
Town Supervisor Gerald Morrow said he is pleased the community was one of the few rural towns nationwide to receive money from Washington.
Chesterfield had been cited in 2003-04 by the State Department of Health because its existing spring-water system did not meet new federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for surface-water contamination.
The town investigated its options and decided to create a municipal-well system at an estimated cost of $4 million.
Morrow said $2 million would have come from the Office of Rural Development Environmental Facilities Corp. and another $900,000 from a 30-year, no-interest loan.
The system also would have cost each of the 149 users in Port Kent $1,200 a year for water service.
But the Town Council decided that was too expensive and sought alternatives.
"This was an unfunded mandate," Morrow said. "We were all right with our spring system. Sure, there was a water ban once in a while, but people were paying $300 a year.