Mike Bergeron

Mike Bergeron -- Water Superintendent

Mike bergeronWilton’s water system was begun around 1902 and chartered by the state in 1904. A committee chose a site above Garwin Falls for the first reservoir. That site was outgrown by the 1930s. A new reservoir was built on Sand Hill Road and connected to the first. That system served the town for over a hundred years, until the 1980s when the state changed the rules about open reservoir systems.

After considerable study, voters chose to drill wells rather than install an expensive filtration system at the reservoir dam. Since1988, the town has had two packed gravel wells which serve the downtown area and a piece of Milford in Pine Valley. The system has the capability of pumping a million gallons of water each day, but generally uses about a quarter of that.

Mike Bergeron has been in charge of that system since 2012.

“It’s a different place than it was back then,” Bergeron said recently in his trailer office at the pump house. “There was no generator system, both the Everett and Abbott wells had been rehabbed. There were 680 connections when I came, now there are 715. In the summer we pump about 240,000 gallons and in the winter about 160,000.”

Originally from Leominster, Mass., Bergeron grew up in Greenville, moving there in 1978. “My folks still live in the same house.” After high school he went to work at Greenville Estates. He stayed there for 18 years, rising to head of maintenance.

“I learned on the job,” he said, “but I took the state certification courses and I have a grade 2 treatment and distribution license.” He added, “When I came here, I got certification in back-flow testing” so the required tests could be done in-house instead of contracted. I got a good understanding of how it all works. It’s very interesting.”

Mike Bergeron with pumpThe pump house on Greenville Road (Route 31 south) is built over the Everett well. Pointing to the array of bright blue pipes, he said the system was very simple. “The water comes in there and it goes out here.” In between it flows through the chamber that adds the required chlorine and chemicals to balance the water’s acidity level.  Little else is done to it, he said, since there are no hard minerals like iron in the water. The water is tested regularly at several locations.

New pumpIn 2012, the water commissioners began replacing all of the water meters and are about half-way through that process.  “All the meters were old-style analog,” Bergeron said. “You had to go and read each one manually. With the “radio read” all you have to do is drive by.” Since meters have to be rotated regularly, he said, “we now have a maintenance plan.”

A proposed large development near the recycling center “will cause a lot of upgrading to bring (the system) up to today’s standards,” he said. “One of the fortunate things is working with (Road Agent) Brian Adams and the highway guys. They’re awesome. Brian and I have the same philosophy – do it right the first time.”

He mentioned an odd problem found when they had to replace a pipe under the by-pass, which was opened in 1955. The state had built up the road by about eight feet, “right over the top of the old road. We dug down and found the old pavement. We went down 14 feet to find the pipe.” Replacing pipes in various sections has disclosed parts of the original system. Pine Valley got a larger main pipe when the apartments were created in the former Hillsboro Mills.

Bergeron built a new house in Mason in 1998 and has lived there for 23 years. He currently has small flock of chickens. “Their coop is the Taj Mahal,” he said. “They’re my pets, they all have names. A bear came through, but didn’t bother them.”

Bergeron’s job is seven days a week. “On weekends I just check the pump house. I was on the Greenville Fire Department, and I had to give that up.”

But he said, “I haven’t missed one day the whole time I’ve been here.”

He doesn’t expect to miss any now.

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