Sherman to drill new well to fix salt problem

Photo of Katrina Koerting

SHERMAN — Funding for a solution to the salty wells on the town hall complex will be up to voters.

The selectmen decided on Thursday to drill a well by the Sherman Playhouse and firehouse in an effort to provide potable water that won’t continue to corrode the pipes and valves at those buildings. Residents could vote on whether to approve funding for the project at a town meeting next month.

It will cost up to $15,000 to drill the new well and all of the infrastructure needed to get the water to those buildings. This money, which will come from the town’s capital nonrecurring fund, needs to be approved at a town meeting. That date has not been set yet, but the selectmen hope it will be Sept. 14.

In the meantime, First Selectman Don Lowe will start the needed paperwork, since it could take two months to get state approval.

Until workers begin drilling into the ground, it won’t be clear whether the new well’s water will be salt free and if the well will be sufficient to serve the playhouse and firehouse.

“If we drill the well and it’s a lousy well, we’ll go back to plan B,” Selectman Bob Ostrosky said.

Plan B would be to drill a new, larger well at Mallory Town Hall, which is now within state standards for sodium and chloride levels, and trench it over to the playhouse and firehouse to provide water to all three buildings in the complex. This will most likely be more expensive, which is one reason why the selectmen hope the new well will work.

There were also concerns about the route the trench would have to take, but Lowe said he got the state approval for that on Thursday. The trenching would cost about $5,000 to $8,000 in addition to the $5,000 or so it costs to drill a well.

“If we need to do that, we’re cleared to,” he said.

The town has been grappling with too much sodium and chloride in the water at five of its wells for several years. One at Sherman School and the one at Mallory Town Hall are within the state’s standards now but the selectmen are still trying to find a permanent solution for all of them.

Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on bottled water and fixing the corroded plumbing at the affected buildings. These concerns led to a study last year into why the wells are salty and how to fix these problems.

The study found that that road salt used during the winter is most likely the cause for the poor water quality, but there are different possible explanations for how the salt runoff is entering the town wells, including fractures in the well casing or the manhole cover not completely sealing the opening.

The solution heading to voters next month only pertains to the firehouse and playhouse. The selectmen are still determining the best course of action for Mallory Town Hall, including drilling an entirely new well or raising the existing well and treating it with UV lights.

“I don’t think that will eliminate the problem,” Selectman Kevin Keenan said.; 203-731-3345