History

OVER 75 YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE TOWN OF HOOKSETT

“Until the late 1800s, the medical field did not know how diseases were spread through populations.  Many thought that evil gases came up from the soil or that illness was caused by the alignments of the stars and moon.  As disease origin and transmission became better understood, the importance of separating sewer disposal from water supply was recognized as critically important.” – NH Dept. of Environmental Services

According to the History of Hooksett, the first public water systems in town were privately owned and located in the Village area.  They included the Hooksett Aqueduct Co. and the “Arel System.”

The Hooksett Aqueduct Co. was incorporated in 1899 and served the west side of the Merrimack River.  It included the Pinnacle Pond intake, a pump house, a “reservoir” (some sort of elevated storage) and a number of relatively small supply mains, house services and other equipment.  A 1931 plan of this system indicates that it was owned by W.M. Davis and that a series of new 2” and 4” water mains were proposed to extend from the Pond down Pine Street and Main Street to Robie’s Store and from Main Street up Rosedale and Maple Streets to what is now referred to as West River Road (RT3A).

The Arel System was owned by Willie Arel and served the east side of the river near the former Hooksett Manufacturing Co. and Hooksett Mills Co.  The start date of the system is unclear and no records of incorporation appear to be on file; however there are references to water rights which appear to be associated with the system in records documenting Mr. Arel’s land purchases from 1903 to 1917.  Those records and former Precinct employees suggest that one or more wells or springs in the area near Merrimack Street and Dundee Avenue may have provided the water supply for the Arel System, but no conclusive evidence for this was available during the preparation of this summary.  Precinct records suggest that the Arel System was also known as the Dundee Mill System.

According to the NH DES, “… in the early 1900s, a number of major public water systems in NH were privately owned and operated for a profit… by the 1920s this private sector investment had significantly departed for greener rather than blue pastures.  As a result, city and town governments were forced to take over these utilities.”  In our Village, the History of Hooksett suggests that both of the privately owned existing water systems “were inadequate to meet the growing needs of the residents” due to population growth.  Efforts to conduct studies and raise money to establish a suitable new public water system were made at Town Meetings in 1907 and 1923, but they were not successful.

To help address this issue, the Hooksett Village Water Precinct was formed at a public meeting at the Hooksett Town Hall on November 10, 1941.  At this meeting, the first Water Commissioners (Alfred Lambert, John B. Mulaire and John S. Kimball) and officers (George A. Cook, Moderator; Rachel LaFleur, Clerk; Herbert J. Lasalle, Treasurer) were elected.  The first official Precinct meeting was held on April 7, 1942.  The remainder of that decade was spent conducting preliminary studies to identify the most suitable sources of supply, negotiating with existing water systems, establishing the first Precinct “general fund” (via a tax in 1948 at $0.05/$100 valuation), and adjusting Precinct boundaries.

The 1950s were a decade of construction and expansion for the Precinct.  The Precinct began pumping in 1950 after the Public Service Commission of NH authorized the transfer and sale of the Hooksett Aqueduct Co. to the Precinct, which the Precinct reportedly acquired for $9,750.  At the same time, the Precinct borrowed $115,000 from Suncook Bank via a 28-year bond to replace, upgrade and expand the existing water systems.  A new pump house and pond intake were built soon thereafter, and several miles of 2”, 6” and 8” water main were also installed including 20 hydrants, 36 gate valves and “13,000 pounds” of cast iron fittings.  A 200,000 gallon welded steel standpipe (storage tank) was constructed in the Thompson’s Corner area off of Hooksett Road.  The Precinct acquired the Arel System in 1953, and by 1958 had adopted a detailed written Schedule for Water Service (regulations).

In the 1960s, construction continued as the pump station was rebuilt and Brickyard Brook was partially diverted from what is now the Pike Quarry area to supplement Pinnacle Pond via a mile of buried 16” water main.  The Precinct boundaries continued to expand and by 1965, the Precinct had grown from roughly 100 customers to over 335 customers.  In 1966, the Precinct’s engineering consultant predicted the addition of 150 new services by 1968, mostly in new residential developments planned for the Pine Street, Pinnacle Street and lower Main Street areas.  According to Precinct meeting records at the time, “the growth of the Town has just about reached the capacity of our present water supply.”  Test drilling for possible new water supplies, including locations off of Hackett Hill Road, was completed and the potential for acquiring water supply land in the Head’s Pond area was investigated.

The Precinct appointed its first Superintendent (Alfred Collerette) in approximately 1963-64.  In 1967, the Water Commissioners voted to have Leo Hebert start working with Superintendent Collerette “to learn the working[s] of the Precinct.”  By 1968, it “was agreed to pay Mr. Hebert $1.00 per day” for his work.  In 1969, Mr. Hebert assumed the Superintendent’s position, which he held for many years. (See the newspaper announcement here).

In 1970, the Precinct acquired its current office building from the Town of Hooksett.  The building was formerly owned by the B&M Railroad and survived the 1936 flood which inundated the area.

During the 1970s, the Precinct continued to struggle with its limited water source and temporarily imposed a ten-homes-per-year limit on local building contractors.  Further complicating matters, the NH Water Supply & Pollution Control Commission notified the Precinct that continued use of Pinnacle Pond would require construction of a filtration plant by the 1980s.  The Water Commissioners “agreed that this could be very expensive and it might be wise to consider drilling wells.”  The potential of connecting to Central Hooksett Water Precinct (CHWP) was discussed, and test well drilling began in earnest.  Test wells were installed near the Plourde gravel pit, Brickyard Brook off Vista Drive and around Pinnacle Pond.  These studies eventually resulted in the installation of two wells at the Pond in 1986-87, located near the existing pump station (aka the “North Well”) and off of Pinnacle Street (“South Well”).

Significant changes in the distribution system occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.  The river crossing on the old Main Street auto bridge was abandoned and a new crossing was installed under the current bridge.  The State’s new rest area and liquor store were connected to the system, and the Precinct’s boundaries expanded to include the Town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The 8” asbestos-cement trunk lines (major distribution system arteries) on Routes 3A and 3 were replaced with new 12” ductile iron and plastic water mains, improving flow capacity and reliability.  In 1985, a written agreement was signed between the Precinct and CHWP allowing for the construction of our emergency interconnection.  This interconnection continues to provide a critical backup water source during emergencies.

In the late 1980s, Pinnacle Pond and the Brickyard Brook diversion were officially abandoned in favor of using the new groundwater sources (the North and South Wells).  Due to the naturally low pH of the well water and the growing frequency of concerns regarding corrosion, additional treatment (i.e. soda ash injection) was added to reduce the corrosive quality of the “raw” (untreated) water.  In the early 1990s, further treatment (i.e. blended phosphate addition) was added to address elevated iron and manganese levels.  Due to concerns about bacteria contamination associated with water main breaks and construction, disinfection through the addition of chlorine was also added to the treatment train.  At the same time, the Precinct’s backflow prevention and flushing programs were reviewed and updated.

Further studies of the system’s capacity and distribution needs were completed in the 2000s.  Additional test wells were installed on both sides of the Merrimack River and new production wells were constructed at Pinnacle Pond, including the South Backup Well and the East Well.  The Town initiated a comprehensive Wellhead Protection Program including the Precinct’s wells and areas near the Village deemed suitable for future supplies.  The Southern NH Planning Commission completed an Emergency Interconnection Study which included an evaluation of various emergency connection alternatives between the Precincts and Manchester Water Works.  In 2015, the Precinct completed a capacity evaluation which indicated an ongoing need for additional sources and a new storage tank.

Recently, the Precinct has been very active in further optimizing its operations and developing a long-term Capital Improvement PlanWith the Town’s assistance and following a critical water main break on the existing River crossing, a second River crossing was completed below the newly constructed walking bridge at Robie’s to provide a redundant connection between the two sides of the River.  The construction of a new 1 million gallon storage tank on Precinct land west of RT93 is scheduled to be completed in 2019.  The tank is intended to dramatically improve capacity for rapidly growing domestic water use needs as well as fire protection, and increase system efficiency.

HELPFUL LINKS:

HVWP System Overview
NHDES’ “A Partial History of Public Water Systems”
Tata & Howard’s “Water Mains – Then and Now” – 4,000 years of water main history
Tata & Howard’s “Water Distribution Systems in New England” – Local piping practices from 1652 to today
Tata & Howard’s “An Unlikely Connection to Safe Drinking Water:  The Meatpacking Industry Changed How We Treat Drinking Water” – History of disinfection in public water systems
“Officers of the Hooksett Village Water Precinct” (1967 photo) – from “Hooksett Historical Sketches” by Charles R. Hardy
Photos of HVWP Office during 1936 Flood from “Hooksett Historical Sketches” by Charles R. Hardy
Photo of Original HVWP Pump Station at Pinnacle Pond
Hooksett Historical Society web site
NH Historical Society – Hooksett photos 1845-1930