Aquarion project to bring public water to Ridgefield neighborhood — and then 2 schools

Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Conn. Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.

Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Conn. Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.

Tyler Sizemore / Tyler Sizemore

RIDGEFIELD — Residents have overwhelmingly approved an Aquarion Water Company project that will eventually enable Ridgefield High School and Scotts Ridge Middle School to have access to public water.

The project involves the installation of a structure to control water pressure at the intersection of Barlow Mountain Road and North Street. As part of the project, Aquarion Water Company will then extend the water main out to Route 116 up to Craigmoor Road, where a pump station supplies water to all the houses in that area.

Construction is scheduled to take place from April 2023 to the fall.

At a recent special town meeting, Mike Hiltz, an engineering manager at Aquarion, said the water company is planning to interconnect the Ridgefield main system to serve the Craigmoor system.

Hiltz said Craigmoor only has one active well.

“So, if the pump fails, there is no backup pump or backup well to maintain water service to the customers in the Craigmoor neighborhood,” Hiltz said. “Wells do have an age and when they reach their useful life, they get less and less yield. This project takes all of that out of the equation.”

Hiltz said the water main extension will also bring Aquarion water within approximately 1,000 feet of Ridgefield High School and Scotts Ridge Middle School.

In exchange for the easement, Aquarion will do the engineering necessary to one day extend the water main for Craigmoor Road to the property of those schools.

“What the engineering firm will be doing is design that main to go all the way to Ridgefield High School and Scotts Ridge Middle School,” Marconi said.

Cost, testing, ‘reliability’

Aquarion will pay for the work, so there will be no cost to the town.

Additionally, there’ll be periodic testing of the quality of the water at the facility.

Also, most of the project, including the water mains, will go into an underground vault.

“The only part of the project that would be above ground is a computer cabinet,” Hiltz said. “Otherwise, everything is below ground in a vault.”

Hiltz said the benefits to the project is “adding “reliability” to the Craigmoor neighborhood.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said several years ago, due to contamination, the water main was also extended in town — down North Street, to serve both Barlow Mountain and Scotland elementary schools.

“We had contamination in the wells. The question was should we drill new wells or extend the main. The people of Ridgefield voted to extend the main. This is a further extension up to Craigmoor Road,” Marconi added, referring to the current project.

Only one resident at the meeting — Jay Behar, opposed the project.

He said the project will require a lot of traffic control, use of police, and continue for an indefinite period of time.

Directing his comments at Aquarion representatives, selectmen, and the audience, he said he has no issue with well water.

“I drink out of a well,” he said. “I suggest you do the same. It’s absolutely delicious.”

Although several other residents had questions at the meeting, everyone else approved the project.

In regard to possible risks involved in the project, Hiltz said there can be a temporary inconvenience during construction.

“Sometimes, there could be rock in the road. It could take longer to construct the water mains,” he said. “I don't think that we're going to have too much trouble at the school site. But the water main, if it's a hard rock, it could take longer than we anticipated.”

He added rocks would just be a “temporary drawback.”

Marconi said the water pressure in town is not going to change — either during or after construction.

“We don't have a water main yet, going down Barlow Mountain and up North Salem,” Hiltz said. “Had we had a water main there, the pressure would be too high to tie it into the Craigmoor system. So we're not reducing the pressure in any of our existing water mains,” he said. “It's reducing the pressure in the proposed part of the main so that we could safely serve our customers.”

sandra.fox@hearstmediact.com 203-948-9802