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Water tower off Taylor Street, seen  Jan. 8, 2019 in Clinton, where residents and business owners have been impacted by ongoing water quality issues.

CLINTON — Plans have changed for getting a backup water supply for the town, Mayor Lori Ann Bell told the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

The town has only one water well in operation because a well on Taylor Street has been pumping an extraordinary amount of sand with the water it produces. The town is under a state health department order to get another well operating and make other improvements to the water system.

Bell said last month that a third well, near town hall, had been idled for years but tests showed it could be used as a backup water supply. To use it, the town would have to disconnect it from an old, unused water tower and install a chlorination system.

Bell said Tuesday, however, that additional tests show the old well is producing too much ammonia for a chlorination system to overcome.

She said the town's consultant on the water wells has said the Taylor Street well could still be used as a backup water well with repairs costing about $40,000.

Bell said she expects to use a $20,000 state Office of Community Development Grant and another state grant of $19,450 to complete the repairs.

Eventually, the town will have to drill another well at a cost of $500,000 or more, the mayor said.

At a special meeting last month, the board raised water rates effective May 1 in an attempt to increase revenues for keeping the system in line with state health department regulations.

The current residential rate is $13 for the first 2,000 gallons of water used and $2 for each increment of 1,000 gallons above the minimum. The new residential rate will raise the minimum to $20 for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.50 per thousand after that.

The mayor said she is awaiting state approval for an ordinance the board passed last month that addresses cross-contamination equipment required of certain businesses. Four businesses have complied with the order, but some 20 more are not in compliance.

In their attempt to get a handle on the town's shaky financial picture, Town Attorney Charles Griffin said he has sent a letter to a firm that bills the town $300 for a month for services to the Police Department.

None of the aldermen, Bell or the town clerk said they had any idea of what services the company provides. No one currently on the police force is aware of the contract, they said.

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