Dirty water

ALTAMONT — When members of the Trumpler family turn on the taps in the Brandle Road farmhouse where they live, the water comes out brown.

The water is coming from a well, one of two, drilled by the village of Altamont as part of an option agreement Nancy and Michael Trumpler signed with the village last March. The village had drilled and found water on the Trumplers’ property and contracted to buy roughly five acres in order to develop a water supply for Altamont.
The March 19, 2004 option agreement states that the village will "cause two residential water wells to be installed upon seller’s parcel...for seller’s use."

The Trumplers are challenging the contract in court and the village has filed counterclaims. (See related story.)
"It’s been that bad for a couple of weeks," said Nancy Trumpler Wednesday of the quality of their water. Her husband, on Wednesday morning, had brought pictures to The Enterprise office of the polluted water, in their sink, bathtub, and washing machine.

Michael Trumpler was visibly upset as he described how unsafe the water was for his family to drink.
Nancy Trumpler said the water had been discolored, on and off, since August when the well was drilled. But, she said, it was "nothing like this." She described the dirt and grime in the dark brown water.

Mayor James Gaughan said he got a call from the Trumpler house on Saturday about the polluted water. He subsequently spoke with Timothy McIntyre, head of Altamont’s department of public works, about how to correct the problem, Gaughan said.
"Tim’s over there right now," Gaughan said on Wednesday.
The mayor said he had contacted each of the village trustees and they felt as he did: "Despite the litigation currently going on, we feel responsible both legally and morally to solve the problem," said Gaughan.
The village paid about $6,000 to have the two wells drilled, said Gaughan, the lowest of three bids. The well driller is now going to "develop" the well, which means, the mayor said, "putting on high pressure and running it very hard to remove the silt and dirt."
"I feel, despite the complications of the legal stuff, we have to do this," said Gaughan. "I’m hoping it gets itself resolved."

Engineer’s view

Richard Straut, senior vice president of Barton & Loguidice, the engineering firm hired by Altamont for the village’s well-water project, told The Enterprise Wednesday that the problems the Trumplers are having with their well-water supply are in no way related to the nearby village wells and do not indicate that the future village water supply could become polluted.
"The village wells are drilled to a much different standard than residential wells," said Straut. Residential wells are typically not engineered, he said. "The driller makes design decisions as he goes."

Altamont’s municipal wells are much deeper, about 45 to 50 feet deep, he said, while the Trumplers’ wells are about 25 feet deep.

Altamont’s wells were drilled by Layne Christianson, a company which specializes in high-capacity wells, Straut said.
Additionally, Straut said, "There’s a gravel pack around a municipal well."

He explained that such a well is drilled with a much larger hole and gravel is placed around it, to act as a filter.
Also, Straut said, Altamont’s municipal wells were pump tested and developed by "surging and pumping." This involves getting the water to flow back and forth to remove the fine silt; it is pumped at a high rate for 72 hours, Straut said.
Straut said he could not speak with any accuracy about the specifics of the Trumplers’ residential well problems since his company had nothing to do with drilling them but, he said, "What may have happened, is residential wells typically don’t have a screen and gravel pack. They have a steel pipe with an open bottom."
He said the pollution would be explained "by natural causes."
Such pollution, Straut said, is not typical of a residential well. "No one would expect it to be acceptable" he said.
He went on, "The village has asked us to consult to solve the problem. As part of the option agreement, the village feels a moral responsibility to follow up."
How will Barton & Loguidice proceed" "First we have to figure out what the problem is," said Straut. "Obviously, it’s dirty water. But what’s causing it" I expect we’ll find the answer to this and get it solved."

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