By Meghan Foley, North Adams Transcript
WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Selectmen learned just what went into the multiple-year project to dig the town’s new well at the board’s meeting Monday night.
Water and Sewer Super intendent Ed Rondeau, Public Works Director Timothy Kaiser and Town Manager Peter Fohlin gave a presentation about the history of the project and its importance to sustaining the town’s drinking water supply.
Fohlin said the project was prodigious and very costly, but one the town needed.
"You might think that two wells would be enough ... but in our case, it’s not safe enough," he said.
During the past few years, only two of the town’s three wells have been operable, and he and Kaiser have been on "pins and needles" about the situation.
"If we have two wells and lose one of them, we’re in a precarious situation," Fohlin said.
The town can’t be operated at normal levels on one well without asking residents to conserve water, he said.
Kaiser said the total cost of the project was $1.12 million, which included project design, the digging of test wells, the preparation of bidding documents, digging the well, and installing the infrastructure for its operation. The cost also covered four tractor-trailer loads of cement grout that were used to plug a leak in the artesian aquifer. The leak, which opened a 6-foot wide by 14-foot deep sinkhole at the site, sprung while the well was being dug in February 2010.
Despite the unexpected expense, the project did stay on budget by means of some "creative thinking," Kaiser said. That thinking included purchasing an U.S. Army surplus generator instead of a market-value generator to provide a backup electrical source for the well, and having water and sewer crews rehabilitate the chlorination building from the old Well No. 1 to be used at the new Well No. 1, he said.
Fohlin said he preferred to call the completion of the well project a celebration. He then brought out a wine bottle with a label on it identifying the contents as the town’s tap water. The water was poured into wine glasses for the Selectmen to toast to the new well.
In other business, the Selectmen signed a proclamation declaring Oct. 22 to Oct. 28 as End Polio Now Week. Anne Skinner, president of the Williamstown Rotary Club, brought the proclamation to the Selectmen’s attention.
"For some years, there has been a major project of Rotary International to try to eliminate polio everywhere on Earth. We’re close, but we’re not there yet," she said.
The Selectmen unanimously agreed to have David Rempell, chairman of the Selectmen, sign the proclamation.
The Selectmen also set a public hearing for 7:05 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, for a request from the Richard A. Ruether American Legion Post 152 for a change in board of directors and an alteration of premises on the club’s liquor license.