Trustees lift Bethel water restrictions

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BETHEL – Early Monday night, trustees of the Bethel Water District temporarily lifted their emergency water restrictions.

They were imposed after catastrophic rainfall on the night of July 11 buried the district’s Chapman Brook Reservoir under tons of mud, boulders and wood debris.

The watery avalanche also shoved the brook out of its channel in the valley, causing it to mow down dense woods and create two new channels along the lower northwest side of Barker Mountain.

Bethel residents and businesses have not had to boil water, thanks to water being trucked in daily from Poland Spring Water Co., Rumford Water District and Splash Inc. of Turner. But, residents were urged to limit doing their laundry, reduce time in the shower, and to not water flowers and lawns, or wash cars and dogs.

Now, they can do all of that based on the additional water supply being provided to the district without charge, district spokesman John Head said by phone Tuesday afternoon in the district office.

Currently, the district’s reservoir on Paradise Road has been full for three consecutive days. Additionally, the district’s improvised water system from a Chapman Brook tributary is pumping 95 gallons an hour, coupled with another 35 gallons an hour from an existing well on land owned by Bethel resident Richard Douglas.

“We can’t totally relax, because this is not a long-term solution,” Head said. “We’ve still got a problem, but we’re cleaning out the reservoir and trying to get (Chapman) brook back into its channel with help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

The decision to lift conservation measures, however, could change depending on the weather and continued production from temporary sources. That’s why it’s subject to daily review.

“It’s very fragile,” Head said. “If we get another downpour, that could put us back into it.”

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