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Rumford Water District celebrating 100 years
RUMFORD -- The Rumford Water District is celebrating their 100th year of operation on Thursday, Oct. 13.
A featured event for the public that day will be an open house at Scotties Pump Station from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Come and see how your water is delivered to your home.
There will be signage leading to the pump station, located from the further end of the student parking lot (second entrance) at Mountain Valley High School.
Also, for the first time since 1993, the Maine Water Utilities meeting will take place in Rumford at 49 Franklin.
Brian Gagnon, who has served as superintendent for 26 years, said the Rumford Water District's distribution system includes more than 42 miles of water mains, serving about 4,500 people and providing fire protection services through 213 hydrants.
Last year, they delivered 256 million gallons of water, an average of 702,000 gallons per day.
Gagnon also researched files from past superintendents to compiled a history of the water district.
At the turn of the 20th century, Rumford was a boom town. There was the Oxford Paper Company, the International Paper Company and the Continental Paper Bag Company.
The Portland and Rumford Falls Railroad had extended their tracks up into Oquossic and the Rangeley Lakes area.
Rumford also had three water companies supplying water to different areas of the town. Because the town was expanding so quickly, the three water companies' sources of supply could not keep up with the expansion.
So, in March of 1911, town officials organized and appointed a Water District Board of Trustees. By September, the Rumford and Mexico Water District was chartered by the State of Maine Legislature. Rumford was to supply water to the Town of Mexico, but Mexico ended up voting to form their own water district. An amendment to the Charter in 1950 would later change the name to the Rumford Water District.
The Rumford and Mexico Water District Charter authorized the purchased of the three existing water companies. Bonds were issued for $350,000.
The engineering firm of Metcalf and Eddy of Boston was hired to study and recommend a feasible site for the source of a new water supply. After the consideration of several possible sites, they recommended the construction of the Mt. Zircon Reservoir.
Plans and design were then completed and put out to bid. The land for the reservoir was purchased and the work was completed in the summer of 1914 and put into service early the next year. Total cost of the project was $127,530.30.
The Mt. Zircon Dam measured 847 feet long and 57 feet high at the center, with a concrete core wall, four feet thick the entire length of it, set on solid ledge. It flooded an area of 21 acres and held 110 million gallons.
The drainage area of the watershed is 2.6 square miles and its tributary was the Mt. Zircon Brook. The famous Mt. Zircon moontide springs are located and spill over within the watershed.
A 12-inch cast iron main was laid from the reservoir across the Androscoggin River up to Rt. 2 and northerly to the existing distribution system in the Virginia section of town, where a reservoir was also built.
Improvements were made over the years in the distribution system, upgrading water mains and making improvements to the three existing water systems that had been purchased when the district was formed.
A metering program to discourage the waste of water was started in the mid-1920's, about the time the town's population became somewhat stable.
The district started adding chlorine to the water in 1929, complying to a directive issued to all utilities in Maine by the State Dept. of Health and Welfare.
The Zircon reservoir reached dangerously low levels in the mid-1940's, so trustees decided to look for a well supply. In 1952, a gravel-packed well was installed by D.L. Maher on the Swift River Road that yielded about 400 gallons per minute.
Rumford citizens voted to add fluoride to the public water supply in 1959, resulting in the purchase and installation of fluoridation equipment. To help defray the expenses, the Public Utilities Commission allowed a surcharge of 50 cents per customer per quarter.
A couple more dry years in the 1960's prompted the trustees to look for an additional source of water to supplement the system. Another well was installed on the Swift River Road in 1966, just 400 feet from the first well located there.
After the Safe Drinking Water Act went into effect, the district made several needed improvements in the early 1990's. A new water source called Milligan's Well, located near Ellis River off Rt. 5 heading toward Andover, was found and developed into a well and pump station producing 750 gallons per minute.
The district also added two new one million gallon impoundment reservoirs which replaced old open reservoirs.
The district purchased the old Chevrolet garage on Spruce Street in 1992 that became the shop and office for the district.
After experiencing problems with the Milligan Well falling off in pumping capacity in July, 1997, the trustees had a new well drilled, located a few hundred yards from the original well, which was capable of producing nearly 1,000 gallons per minute.
The district purchased 198 acres of land that surrounds Scotties Wells in 2004 for well head protection purposes and a year, a new pump station was constructed there that provides contact time for chemical addition and also has an aeration system that can produce up to 580 gallons per minute.
This 1914 photos shows the completed construction of the Mt. Zircon Reservoir, with measured 847 feet long and 57 feet high at the center, with a concrete core wall, four feet thick the entire length of it, set on solid ledge. It flooded an area of 21 acres and held 110 million gallons.