More than 200 homes and businesses in North Stonington that do not have wells have had no water since Tuesday morning after a pressure tank failed, according to the Southeastern CT Water Authority, but water will be restored for some as early as Tuesday evening.
There has been a major problem with a pressure tank that failed on Monday night and it could be awhile before water is restored, according to the water authority. This is one of two water systems in town.
The tank on Route 2 across from the Holly Green shopping plaza holds 5,000 and there were 2,500 gallons of water in it at the time.
North Stonington First Selectman Nicholas Mullane II said there was significant damage to a well site that services a little over 200 people in the area, cutting the water supply to housing developments nearby and buildings along Route 2. The roof at the pump house collapsed, so the pump station needs to be replaced, according to Mullane and Josh Cansler, general manager of the water authority
"A tank let go and totally obliterated the pump station," Mullane said.
Cansler said they started getting complaints and calls about the water situation around 3 a.m. and 229 customers in North Stonington are affected, including 13 businesses.
"And of course when a tank that is under pressure fails, it causes significant damage to the facilities around it, which is what happened. This is very unusual that this happened," Cansler said.
Mullane said that in his 28 years as first selectman he hasn't seen anything like this.
"This is a first," he said, calling the water system failure and anomaly that happened without warning.
The pressure tank is 20 to 30 years old and crews are working to figure out why it broke.
Cansler said that number isn't considered old and that the system had met all requirements when it was inspected Monday before the pressure tank failure. It could take days to fix.
There were chemicals in the room that didn't prove hazardous, but the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded as a precaution, Mullane II said.
"The issue right now is how we'll be able to provide the temporary services and supply to those who are out of water," Mullane II said.
The water authority is working with town officials to get people water who don't have it.
There is water available at the fire station on Route 2 for residents who need it. The station gets water from a well. If you do go there to get water, bring your own container. It may be a good idea to stock up because it's unknown when water will be restored. One free case of bottle water is available for family.
Truckloads of water from Connecticut Water were brought in Tuesday afternoon to fill the tank up with some water to begin the temporary restoration process for customers.
There is no indication of foul play, officials said, and state and town officials spent the day investigating why the 20- to 30-year old tank and broke. The state and local fire marshal are also on scene to investigate whether "there was any wrongdoing," but there is no suspect or indication of that at this time, Mullane said.
“So, when it came apart, it came apart with some force and everything that’s around it was significantly damaged and it did cause the roof of the building to collapse,” Josh Cansler, of Southeast Connecticut Water Authority, said.
Many businesses have had to close because of the tank explosion.
The impact on customers, including Katherine Davis, is that sink faucets barely trickled when they tried to get water.
"We had to use bottled water to brush our teeth this morning because we’re not getting enough water there’s absolutely no water upstairs in the upstairs bathroom," Davis said. "So I think we’re going to my mother’s later so we can take showers because there’s no water."
The water authority called in their engineer and the state is also sending one. State and local emergency management officials are also responding to the incident.
Fire protection is not affected. There are no hydrants on the water system and Firefighters use a tanker truck.
The Southeastern CT Water Authority said it will update residents as soon as new information is available.
Police and other agencies were still on-scene investigating Tuesday afternoon.