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Dover, Portsmouth take steps toward funding an emergency water line connection project

The interconnection's piping will be suspended under the new pedestrian bridge set to replace the old General Sullivan Bridge, pictured here.
Doug Kerr
The interconnection's piping will be suspended under the new pedestrian bridge set to replace the old General Sullivan Bridge, pictured here.

Dover and Portsmouth are trying to secure funding for the installation of a water main interconnection that will connect public water between the two towns, and could serve several surrounding towns.

The project has been in the works since 2020. Estimates for the total cost of construction have ranged from $6 million to $8 million.

To start, the cities are looking at a $2.4 million deposit to secure its construction. The state and cities are looking to secure about $3.5 million in federal funds to cover the rest.

John Storer, director of community services in Dover, said as a Seacoast community, there aren’t many freshwater resources, so access to those supplies can become strained overtime. This connection can be used among a dozen towns and municipalities, overall.

“All communities are still trying to keep an eye towards the future of where we might be able to get more water. And if we can't find more water supplies, the question is ‘How can we rely on one another in a potential time of crisis?’“

The interconnection’s piping will be suspended underneath a new pedestrian bridge that will cross Little Bay, which will replace the old General Sullivan Bridge.

Storer said in case of emergencies, such as water contamination or broken equipment, the interconnection can be turned on to flow water in either direction. He said this connection would fill one of the final gaps remaining in regional water connections.

“Our job is to make sure that we can survive any one of those contingencies that could pop up. And by being interconnected to Portsmouth, it certainly gives us that backup supply,” said Storer. “God forbid something does happen to us or if we have to send water down to Portsmouth, we can at least meet basic critical needs for both municipalities.”

Dover is poised to front the money for the deposit in the form of a bond. Dover’s city council will decide on whether they will authorize the loan by Aug. 23. A public hearing will take place on Aug. 9.

Construction of the interconnection is anticipated to begin next year, according to the Department of Transportation.

Adriana (she/they) was a news intern in the summer of 2023, reporting on environment, energy and climate news as part of By Degrees. They graduated from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in June 2023.
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