On June 12, 1947 the Town of Bristol voted to purchase the 60 plus year-old Bristol Aqueduct Company for the amount of $22,500.  This purchase included all piping within the distribution system to the individual curb stops (a shut off at street side) at the property line of homes and businesses. The system started at Newfound Lake, here water entered a chlorination building for disinfection of the lake water, piping continued along the Newfound River to the village. Many homes and business were tied into the distribution system and had been billed based on number of farm animals, faucets and other itemized usages. The department also received a fee of $6500 generated from taxes for the fire protection system (now known as fire betterment).  

After the purchase of the Bristol Aqueduct Company (renamed The Bristol Water Works) concerns developed over the quality of water from Newfound Lake with the continued growth and increased recreation on the lake such as motorized boats. In 1949 the Bristol Water Works Board of Commissioners determined a production well should be installed, this would enable the department to provide clean drinking water. A 250,000-gallon storage tank was also to be built to reserve water for customers and fire protection. This steel tank was constructed at the top of Hillside Avenue at an elevation of 600 feet above sea level. This elevation creates the pressure required to service all homes within the distribution system. However, the new pressures within the old distribution system proved to be devastating to the old cast iron pipes. 


In 1951, the pipes that had been in the ground since 1886, were replaced with cement lined cast iron pipes. Now that the department had a tight system they realized that the pumping cost of the water needed to be reduced (400,000 plus gallons per day).  The former system had what seemed to be an endless supply of water allowing many customers to run the water to prevent freezing. Leaks on services and household plumbing had not been an issue in the past. But now it placed a burden on the department, this burden led to the installation of water meters enabling the department to receive payment for usage. This encouraged water conservation as well as repairs to shallow water lines to prevent freezing and the need to continuously run water.

In the mid sixties the government established the Clean Water Act and provided funding to build wastewater treatment facilities throughout the country.  Bristol was a recipient of these monies and in 1967 the town hired an engineering firm to design a wastewater treatment facility to provide sewage collection and treatment for the village portion of Bristol. By 1970 the Town had a facility built and able to treat an average of 250,000 gallons per day.  Prior to this many sewers ran into the storm drains that fed directly into the Newfound and Pemigewasset rivers.


In 1979 a new well was installed near the Wellington State Park (Fowler Well) along with a 12” and 16” pipeline extending from the Hillside Avenue tank sight. This line extension brought 520 new costumers to the already existing 730 customers in the village system. During the “Condo Boom” in the ‘80s this lake system had been expanded greatly to supply these developments. In 1986 the department installed a 1 million gallon precast concrete water storage tank to provide storage for the entire system and abandoned the old 250,000-gallon steal tank at the top of Hillside Avenue. The department began to utilize a computer water and sewer billing system for the first time, a much-appreciated tool for the increased customer base.


In 1990 the wastewater treatment facility was due for an upgrade which doubled the capacity. We are now able to treat an average of 500,000 gallons per day. Also, in 1990, the town purchased a parcel of land for a future well site and existing wellhead protection for the Fowler Well. In 1994 a Belt Filter Press was installed at the wastewater treatment facility, this press enabled the operators to dewater the sludge produced on site rather than hiring an outside contractor to provide this service and has proven to be a cost saving tool.

In 1995 the water department installed a corrosion control facility next to the Fowler Well, the facility adds a chemical to neutralize the pH of the well water before introducing it into the distribution system, and this prevents corrosion throughout the system and within the household plumbing. This remains to be the only form of treatment within the water system until future requirements are placed on the water system.


In 1997 the Water Commissioners were asked to take over the Sewer Commission’s duties that were being handled by the Board of Selectmen since 1995. This combination established what is now known as the Public Works Department.


In 1998 the Public works Department installed a 2nd well across the river from the existing Fowler Well in order to comply with the Department of Environmental Services (DES) requirement to provide a backup water supply for the entire distribution system. The water department started replacing water meters with new touch read meters and continued to do so for the next 6 years replacing an average of 225 meters per year.


In 2000 an engineering firm was hired to conduct a feasibility study to supply sewer service to Newfound Lake as well as look at our existing system for necessary improvements prior to expansion of the collection system.


In 2003 construction of a Chlorination/Dechlorination system was started to replace the failed ultraviolet disinfection system at the wastewater treatment facility. This project was competed in 2004 and produces a quality effluent that is discharged into the Pemi River. Also in 2004 the development of the “Heated Splashguard” took place at our facility, this device was designed to melt ice that had formed on the oxidation ditches and has proven to be a labor and cost saving device. (You can read more about this in the link to “NEWS LEAKS” starting on page ten.)


In 2005 the Public Works Department hired an engineering firm to conduct a study of the current water system and project the future need of the department for the next 25 years. This study will include a hydraulic map of the water system as well as to look at current rates and what system improvements that are needed to develop a long-term capital improvements plan for the future.


 In 2006 the Town went to a 5 member select board and adopted the Town Management form of government. The new form of government abolishes the commissions and places their duties upon the Town Manager and Board of Selectmen. Among these duties have been the ongoing improvements to the distribution and collection systems as well as upgrade to the wastewater treatment facility.


Currently, the wastewater treatment facility is underway with an upgrade to the laboratory in conjunction with improvements to the sludge handling procedures. The project will also include installation of additional process control equipment to better handle issues experienced with biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS) in the future. The construction of this project should take place during 2007-2008.


The department’s current water customer base exceeds 3300 individuals supplied by over 1320 service connections. We supply water to residential, commercial and over 150 seasonal customers as well as schools, campgrounds, industry and more than 140 fire hydrants throughout the town. In 2006 the department pumped 121,380,000 gallons of water, an average of 332,457 gallons per day pumped from the wells.


The sewer system services greater than 1900 individuals supplied by over 750 connections into the system.  In 2006 the department treated 69,141,000 gallons of wastewater, an average of 189,427 gallons treated per day at the wastewater treatment plant.  The treatment plant does offer tours of the facility, call to see when tours are available.


Bristol will continue to grow and the Public Works Department will continue to expand to accommodate the needs of the town.