Norton Water Dispenser

Norton offers drinking water at no charge to residents from a dispensing machine outside town hall.

NORTON — The long-awaited water treatment plant that is expected to resolve a lot of the town’s lingering water quality issues has been delayed again.

The $11 million facility that was expected to open in the fall now will open at the earliest in late December but more likely early next year, water officials say.

A main reason is wells the plant will serve have to be taken out of operation and cleaned.

“It’s the worst time, not an ideal time to take off line,” water and sewer commissioner Scott Ollerhead said of late summer.

That work will be done in the fall.

One purpose is to have cleaner water run through the plant.

In addition, two to three weeks of water testing needs to be conducted, and that work that was earmarked for the end of September and October has now been pushed back to December. Water officials are also hoping the state Department of Environmental Protection will allow testing in just one well.

Also, personnel need to be brought on to run the plant. A new assistant water superintendent position will help oversee the plant.

The plant has seen costs rise and been delayed several times.

“They’ve kept on budget” more recently, Ollerhead said.

The deadline for the contractor to finish the plant has been extended.

“As long as the weather holds up, we should be okay,” Ollerhead said.

Ground was broken in June 2018 on the facility off Plain Street that is located near three of the town’s five wells that tap into the Canoe River aquifer.

Besides addressing a manganese issue, the water treatment plant will also help filter out iron that causes a discoloration of water.

The town has a free water dispenser outside town hall for residents who want clean water now.

Meanwhile, a public hearing is being held Aug. 27 on proposed new water rates, which will partly help pay for the new plant.

For more information, visit the town website at www.norton.ma.us.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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