ME - Newport Water District pumps fail : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

By Sharon Mack, Of the NEWS Staff

NEWPORT — The water pumps at the Newport Water District pumping station on the north end of Nokomis Pond failed Tuesday, causing emergency conservation methods to be immediately ordered.

Superintendent Tom Todd said that when he arrived at the station Tuesday morning: “The water was literally running out the doorway.”

While the pumps are being fixed and the building dried out, NWD customers are being ordered to conserve water for the next 24 hours, schools are closed today, and a dam on the Sebasticook River has been closed to provide a fire-protection pond.

Todd said that some sort of mechanical failure caused the pumps to stop late Monday or early Tuesday, which flooded the basement of the pumping station. By Tuesday afternoon, the district’s water pumps had been dismantled and were being taken to Bangor for service. “We’re not sure what happened,” said Todd, who said the overflow was not related to the weekend’s rain. “We still don’t know why they stopped pumping.”

Todd said he was frustrated by 32 separate alarms that failed to react to the flooding situation. “This same problem occurred two years ago and we dealt with it then. We added a flood alarm system that had 32 connections to notify us. It failed.”

Todd explained that the pumping station has no overflow piping to allow water that overflows the well head to be transferred back into Nokomis Pond. “We are in the process right now of applying for some grants and this is part of the funding package. We need a physical outlet for the overflow.”

Todd said the good news is that tests on the water released during the flooding into the district’s piping indicated that its quality had not been compromised. “There is no threat to our customers except the very real possibility that they will run out of water,” said Todd.

He said the district’s crew will work around the clock until the station is repaired. “We expect to be back on line tomorrow afternoon,” he said.

Meanwhile, school has been canceled today at Nokomis Regional High School and Newport/Plymouth Elementary and Junior High School. “We’re big [water] users,” said SAD 48 Superintendent William Braun Tuesday afternoon. “There are 1,600 people between those two schools. That’s the size of a small town. By keeping the children home, we reserve a lot of the water for others.”

Braun said that teachers and support staff will report to school as usual. Todd said he ordered all fire hydrants to remain closed, and the lower dam, called the Main Street Dam, was closed Tuesday to allow water to pool. Pumper-tanker trucks can use the pool as a water source in the event of a fire.

Todd said it has been a frustrating turn of events for the district.

“The sad part is we are losing our credibility,” said Todd. “We want to be a reliable utility. But until we can have the funds to upgrade and accomplish some of these improvements, we’re just going to have to deal with these types of situations.”

-- Doris (, November 30, 2000

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