By Katy Savage
Some retail shops and restaurants closed and the Woodstock Village was under a boil water notice after a water main broke last week.
Woodstock Aqueduct Company President Jireh Billings said a pipe broke in front of Woodstock Recreation Center around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, April 29.
Three feet of water leaked from a 31-foot tank, spilling around 300,000 gallons of water in the road.
“It was big and in a place where it was hard to isolate it,” Billings said. “The only way to fix it was to shut everything down.”
Billings said the broken pipes were 50 to 75 years old and were a mix of cast iron, copper and galvanized.
“The water blew a hole through it, which happens with pipes as they get older; they get weaker points in them,” Billings said.
The pipe was repaired by 1:30 p.m. Thursday, but the village was under a boil water notice until Friday afternoon, after the water was tested for bacteria.
Gail Devine, the director of Woodstock Rec, said a cleaning person working after hours noticed water entering the building and immediately contacted Woodstock Aqueduct. Devine said there is extensive interior and exterior damage.
“I do not know the cost yet but I believe we are looking at tens of thousands of dollars in interior and exterior repairs,” she said.
Woodstock Rec closed for five days, but spring sports are running as scheduled. The department’s 175 gym members are directly impacted.
“The community is being very understanding,” Devine said.
Woodstock Aqueduct Company supplies water to about 750 connections in the Woodstock Village, including most of the businesses. The Woodstock Inn is the largest customer.
Woodstock Resort Vice President of Marketing Courtney Lowe said a letter was delivered to each occupied room notifying guests about the lack of water and the boil notice. The inn also alerted guests through a messaging app called Zingle.
“In general, guests were not happy about the situation,” Lowe said.
Guests were given bottled water and offered to shower at the Athletic Club, which is just outside the village water supply. The inn’s restaurant, The Red Rooster, was also closed for lunch on Thursday.
Some of the pipes in Woodstock are 100 years old and breaks happen often, but it’s rare to shut down the water completely. The last boil notice was about 20 years ago, Billings said.
“It’s a unique situation,” Billings said.
Business owners said it was a slow time of year, but the water problem provided a challenge on top of what’s already been a challenging year due to Covid-19.
Mountain Creamery owner Ben Pilsmaker stayed open on Thursday but he couldn’t wash dishes until the afternoon. He let the dishes pile up before he was able to wash them with boiled water.
“It was just kind of a pain,” Pilsmaker said. “We were able to stay open but it involved boiling all the water, it made everything take longer.”
Yankee Bookshop opened for a few minutes on Thursday and then abruptly closed. In addition to losing water, the shop lost phone and internet due to a fallen tree.
“When employees can’t use restrooms or wash their hands, it becomes not necessarily a safe work environment,” co-owner Kristian Preylowski said.
Mon Vert Cafe is closed on Thursday anyway, but owner Sam DiNatale said she couldn’t serve coffee or drinks on Friday due to the boil notice.
“I had many people walk out because I couldn’t make a latte,” DiNatale said. “It is what it is.”