Have you ever wondered where Norwich’s water supply originates? Well, it first arrived in town via a 10″ wooden pipe from the Charles Brown Brook. In 1921 the Norwich Water Supply was formed to construct and operate a water supply system for the village. A reservoir and dam, designed by a retired dean from the Thayer School of Engineering, was built along the brook. There wasn’t enough money for an expensive iron pipe, so wooden pipe was used along Beaver Meadow Road. The wooden pipes proved durable, but the metal bands holding the pipes together rusted and broke. The day the main cast iron pipes in town were connected was an eventful one. The fire department was able to throw a stream of water over the Congregational Church.

In the spring, there were complaints that the drinking water looked a bit green. This was caused by the growth of the algae blooms at the reservoir, and the water had to be treated and then the lines flushed.

In 1933, water was piped into new neighborhoods being developed along Cliff and Hazen Streets. It’s not surprising that many members of the water company were also involved in the real estate business. By the 1960s, water consumption was up to 200,000 gallons a day, and the reservoir was dropping three inches a day. Even when restrictions were imposed, the reservoir just didn’t have the storage capacity to keep up with the town’s water demands. Several floods destroyed the dam and its replacement which just added to the problems.

In 1978 The Norwich Fire District, a town department, purchased the Norwich Water Supply Company from the shareholders making Norwich eligible for federal and state funding for a new system. The new water department began to test wells throughout town in the search for a bigger water source. They found a real gusher of a well three miles north of town on Route 5. They drilled down 170′ and hit an aquifer which stretches from St. Johnsbury to Middletown, Connecticut–approximately the same boundaries as glacial Lake Hitchcock.

Below: Pumping Station on Route 5, North

Today, on average, Norwich uses 65,000 gallons of water a day–the aquifer has the capacity to provide a million gallons in a 24-hour period. To hold the water needed for residents and an ample supply for the fire department, a cement holding tank, 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 12 feet deep was installed on Dutton Hill. The water is pumped from the well on Route 5 up to the tank on Dutton Hill. It then flows back down to town.

Letter narrated by Bob Pape, Thank you!