Aldermen seeking more water regional district representation

NASHUA – With city representation a contentious issue in a proposed charter for the Pennichuck Regional Water District, aldermen are looking at various methods to get a city’s representative and an alternate for the district.

Some talked about sending ballots out with water bills to elect the representative. Others mentioned a board at the city level to watch over water issues and then have the panel’s chairman and vice chairman delegated to the regional board.

Ward 7 Alderman Lori Cardin favors having the customers of the district making the choice for the district representatives.

“It’s the ratepayers telling us who they want to represent them,” Cardin said.

A mayoral appointment to the district seems unlikely.

And despite hearing requests to increase city representation, aldermen do not appear to favor upsetting the compromises made to complete the charter.

Alderman-at-Large Fred Britton, who helped craft the charter, said the city’s interests are protected and the city will have the deciding vote on the three most key areas in the district – rates, capital improvement plans and borrowing money.

The aldermanic Pennichuck Water Special Committee reviewed the charter during its meeting without voting on the issue.

Some 16 towns are considering a charter to the proposed regional water district. The document lays out the makeup of the district, its board of directors, resource plan and establishment of rates, among other areas. It will be discussed again at a district meeting at Nashua High School north Thursday. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The charter is silent on the appointment of its governing board. It leaves the procedures up to each of the member municipalities.

Critics said that is too vague.

Barbara Pressly of Orchard Avenue said elected officials, municipal employees and others need to be kept off the board and ratepayers should get first consideration for a seat as a director.

Also, Pressly told the eight aldermen in attendance that the board should tighten the conflict-of-interest regulations. She said a conflict should mean an automatic expulsion from the district’s board of directors.

Sandra Ziehm of Chestnut Street said she’d like to see the city have greater control over the sale of valuable watershed real estate in the district to protect it from harmful development.