Norwich Works to Connect Generator to Vital Water Pump
Norwich — The generator officials hope to use to restart a key pump station in the town water system has arrived.
A electrician on Friday night faced the complicated task of connecting it to the pump so that normal use of the municipal water supply may be restored. Officials hope to complete the job today.
Sam Eaton, distribution manager for the Norwich Fire District and Municipal Water Department, the roughly 360 homes and business connected to the supply should continue to conserve water today, and likely during the days ahead, as well.
Meanwhile, the fire that tore through the pump station early Wednesday morning — ruining the electrical system that powers the pump and causing an estimated $500,000 in damage — has not been classified as an arson, but investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the fire was set on purpose, according to Norwich Fire Chief Stephen Leinoff.
He said there is “more stuff going on with the investigation,” but declined to elaborate.
“Let’s just leave it at we have not ruled out arson, but we have not categorically said it is arson,” Leinoff said.
A message left Friday with the Vermont State Police detective overseeing the investigation was not returned.
The pump station on Route 5 treats water from two wells and sends it to a concrete reservoir on Dutton Hill Road.
An electrician from Post Mills-based Tilden Electric worked inside the building’s charred remains Friday evening, surrounded by the building’s burned interior and beneath a gaping hole in the roof.
Eaton emerged from the behind the building, his arms and hands blackened from work. The pump itself is still functional, but Eaton said the electrician, who had been on scene since about 1 p.m., was charged with the complicated task of rigging it all together and switching manually adjusting settings that had previously worked automatically.
Eaton said he could not estimate when that task would be completed. Even after the pump is working again — whenever that may be — he said residents should continue to use water sparingly so that the reservoir can replenish itself.
“People have been doing good about conserving,” he said.
There is a limited supply of water remaining in the reservoir, prompting officials to come up with a back-up plan that involves pumping in water from Hanover if the generator cannot be connected to the pump before the reservoir runs too low.
If needed, that call would likely be made Sunday, and a “boil water” announcement would go out to customers at that time, Eaton said.
Although the water pumped in from Hanover would be ostensibly safe to drink, pumping in water from a different source triggers a state requirement for a boil water order, he said.
Leinoff, the fire chief, encouraged anyone with information about the fire to call the state’s anonymous arson tip-line at 1-800-322-7766, the Vermont State Police at 802-229-9191, or the Norwich Police Department non-emergency line at 802-649-1460.
Maggie Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3220.