Town to address problems regarding ‘deficient’ dam

WILTON – The state has designated the dam forming the New Reservoir on Sand Hill Road “deficient.”

Therefore, Selectman Kermit Williams told those gathered for Candidates Night on Tuesday, Feb. 28, “Something has to be done.”

There are three options, he said. His preferred solution is to repair the dam as much as required and turn the pond into a recreation area. The cost of doing that could be as much as $100,000, he said.

Option two, Williams said, is to lower the dam and drain out half the water, leaving the pond barely usable.

The third option is to remove the dam and leave the area “a mud flat for years,” he said. That option would also mean work on the banks of the brook.

“We never (again) drink the water,” Williams said. To be able to do so would mean a treatment system that he said would cost “probably a million dollars.”

It is a lovely pond, Williams said, and it could be used for boating or fishing.

Asked when the deadline was for the work, Williams said, “It’s already passed.”

Resident John Shepardson said he had kayaked there a few times.

“The sign says ‘No swimming,’ but it was great for kayaking and would be a good recreational spot, and the town doesn’t have one.”

The idea has been suggested several times over the last few years, but the water commissioner said the pond had to kept intact in case of a water emergency. That possibility has been closed by new regulations.

Residents of the area around Wilton Center have long said they would like the use of it.

The town’s water system dates to 1902, when it was chartered by the state. A dam was built on Gaerwin Falls Brook, which created the “old” reservoir. That dam has been decommissioned.

The new dam was constructed in 1930 on Stockwell Brook when it was obvious that the old reservoir was no longer adequate. It was built by R.H. Newell of Uxbridge, Mass., and the pipes were laid by the United States Pipe and Foundry Co. The town purchased 54 acres surrounding the pond.

In the early 1980s, under a directive from the state to either close or treat all open water sources, the town chose to build two wells off Route 31 South.

When the pumps were disconnected, the system was left so that it could be reconnected to service fire hydrants if needed, but that is no longer possible.

“The water that serves your house serves the hydrants,” Williams said. The water is considered “undrinkable.”

Earlier in the evening, Tom Schultz, a former water commissioner who is running again, said the system served about a third of the town, about 900 residences, plus the Pine Valley section of Milford, “everything on our side of the river.” The new apartments in the former Hillsboro Mill added about 50 units.

Connecting to Milford’s system is a future possibility as a backup source should a well fail.

Those original iron pipes “are still good, Schultz said, but, “They need some work.” The system is gradually being upgraded, he said, and, “We are replacing hydrants and meters.”

The water system is paid for entirely by the users.

Williams said the question will be brought to Town Meeting under the last article, which allows discussion of items not on the warrant but under which no money can be raised.