Whitinsville Water Company

    Located on Lake Street in Whitinsville near the Army National Guard Armory, named in memory of Rosaire J. “Ross” Rajotte, this building has a significant history of its own. Did you know that almost 70% of our Town’s drinking water comes from Sutton, Massachusetts?

    I have often wondered why, with all of the endless sources of water that I am about to relate, that our Town of Northbridge did not build its own bottling plant many years ago. Anyway, one cannot relate the history of the Whitinsville Water Company, a private enterprise, as well as being also a Public Utility and regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, without mentioning the history of the Northbridge Department of Public Works and its holding, namely the “Northbridge Water System”. Along Providence Road ( Route 122) many residences get water from it. Look carefully at your water bill when you get it. Do you fully understand it ? Make sure you know exactly to whom you have to pay. The other neighboring water systems depend on the Whitinsville Water Company to maintain and to repair their water system because the Whitinsville Water Company now owns all of the extensive line equipment. Rate increases are inevitable. Earlier in 2007, the Town of Northbridge approved new water rates that became effective February 9th . Those rates match recent increases of more than 50% by the Whitinsville Water Company. As of December 31, 2007 the Whitinsville Water Company had about 2,058 customers. Last July, the Whitinsville Water Company petitioned the State Department of Telecommunications and Energy for much higher rates in order to raise its revenue by $490,575. Then an increase was approved after talks between the Board of Selectmen and the water company. Furthermore, officials said that residents can expect another water increase in 2 years because of anticipated improvements by the water company. ( to find out about Water Rates, log on to http://www.whitinsvillewater.com/Rates.htm and for Water Quality, log on to http://www.whitinsvillewater.com/Quality.htm )

    As of December 31, 2006 there are exactly 2,119 account customers served by the Northbridge Water System, and all of the water actually passes through the pipes of the Whitinsville Water Company. There are about 800 hydrants in the system, and the water hydrant rental fee is “collective” and not individually paid to the Whitinsville Water Company. This system is quite old, having been started in the mid 1800’s under the control of the Whitin Machine Works. In the early 1800’s there was a vast pasture and the Prentice Farm. One of the Whitins married a Prentice . (Hence what Prentice Road is named after.) With the construction of Whitin’s Pond, now known as Meadow Pond in 1857 when the rivers ran dry, the Whitins also had a reservoir of water for power . Then on September 9, 1901, the Reservoir Dam, Break Neck was started (Lower Dam). In 1937, water pipes were placed over Northbridge Hill and at the “Plummers Flats”. In 1944 main water lines were installed along Douglas Road for “the new shop”. In 1954, the Whitinsville Water Company was incorporated . Later, probably around 1970, the Whitin Machine Works abandoned its ownership of the Northbridge Water Works and sold it to the R.H.White Construction Company. From then on it was purchased and named The Northbridge Water System. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) much later decided that the water coming from all of the wells is ground water that is “under the influence of surface water”. Some time ago, the Town of Northbridge had the option of trying to buy the Whitinsville Water Company. The last option the Town had was to do nothing and leave things the way they were run in the past. It was even put on the ballot for the voters, but it never passed. Also, there is an issue as to whether the Town would ever put Fluoride (Hydrofluorosalicylic Acid) in the water supply. There is a definite benefit and advantage of having stronger teeth to prevent tooth decay for generations. Would townspeople go for this ?

    Today, you can pass by the Carpenter Reservoir, formerly called “New Pond”, which was a favorite spot for swimming. Do not be surprised to see all of the new homes built there. About 3 miles to the east, you can view Meadow Pond and reflect about Thomas S. Frieswick, who served in WWII from 4/18/45-7/11/46 on the USS LST 989 of the US Navy and earned Asiatic Pacific and American Theater Ribbons and the Victory Medal. He founded the Sea Scouts after WWII and there is still a beach area there at the end of the trail, named after Stanley Thomas, who was “killed in action” on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor when aboard the USS Arizona. All this is visible as you enter Delwyn Barnes Memorial Park. On the other side of Meadow Pond where the Mumford River connects along Douglas Road, there is a new “Picnic Point” Industrial Park. This was a popular place for employees many years ago for relaxing in the Summertime when they had outside lunches, picnics. Now water company officials are concerned about liability issues involving swimmers on the beach at Meadow Pond and motorists parking on both sides of the beach. Our Town Manager, Theodore D. Kozak and the General Manager, Donald Q. Bunker, of the Whitinsville Water Company have signed a new lease ( without any cost to the Town) that gives our town the right to use this beach again. Mr. Bunker had attended a Selectmen’s meeting previously to request that the ‘No Parking” signs be posted on Main Street and ‘Beach Closed--No Trespassing’ signs be posted at the beach.

    A new water filtration plant in Town will have to be built over the next 2 years. Are you ready to support it and finance it, or should we leave it up to the Federal Government ? What do you suppose the Whitins would expect us to do ?

 SOURCES AND CREDITS: 1 Journal of William “Gummy” Montgomery, 1890-1946 2 Web Site of Whitinsville Water Company, http:// www.whitinsville water.com/ 3 Conversation with Superintendent of Department of Public Works; July 2, 2007 4 Conversation with Spaulding R. Aldrich, Town Historian; July 3, 2007 5 History of the Whitin Machine Works Since 1831; Thomas R. Navin; c.1950 6 Worcester Telegram and Gazette; July 5, 2007; Local section: pp.B1 & B5 7 Worcester Telegram and Gazette; July 13, 2007; Local section: p.B1


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