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Pamelia to pump water from golf course well, reduce contamination

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Pamelia will reduce contamination in its drinking water to meet state Department of Health guidelines by drawing water from a golf course well and mixing it with its treated supply.

The Town Council approved a plan Monday to pump water out of a well at Highland Meadows Golf Course into its water system. That well water will be mixed with treated water taken in from the city of Watertown to dilute excess contamination from disinfectant byproducts. Contamination in the drinking water has been caused by the long time that treated water sits while it travels from Watertown to Pamelia, via a water line operated by the Development Authority of the North Country.

Town officials negotiated a contract with golf course owner James A. Doolittle to purchase water from a well at the site, 24201 Route 342. The town will spend about $125,000 to build a 1,000-foot water line that will link to a town line, along with the purchase of a submersible pump and filtration system. The project will be put out for bids this summer, with the goal of starting construction in the fall.

The contract with Mr. Doolittle is expected to result in overall savings for the town, Supervisor Lawrence C. Longway told board members Monday.

The town will purchase water from Mr. Doolittle for the first five years of the contract at a rate of $1.20 per 1,000 gallons. That’s less than half the rate at which it now buys water from the authority of $2.75 per 1,000 gallons. After the contract’s fifth year, the town has agreed to pay Mr. Doolittle 35 cents less than the going rate at which it buys water from the authority.

“I’m hoping the savings will cover the $125,000 to do this,” Mr. Longway said.

In recent years, Pamelia residents have received letters from the town saying that water is safe to drink, but that it exceeds the maximum contamination level allowed for disinfectant byproducts.

Those byproducts — called trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids — are produced by the chlorine used by the city to treat the water. When chlorine travels long distances and sits for long periods without use, especially in warm weather, it has time to interact with organic matter to produce disinfectant byproducts. The organic matter comes from the Black River, where the city gets its water.

The town has not yet determined the ratio at which it will blend well and treated water, Mr. Longway said. It could decide to use well water as its exclusive source, if it meets guidelines set by the state Health Department. The well water is much harder than city-treated water because of its mineral content.

Under the town’s plan, well water would be injected with chlorine before a submersible pump sends it into the water line, where it will start mixing immediately with treated water from the city. The water will flow west to fill up the town water tower, behind the town office on Route 37. When the 125,000-gallon tower is full, 43,000 gallons of that water will be released back into the water main to reach houses throughout the town.

Along with using the well as a source, the water tower will continue to be filled by the DANC line to create a blend. That water enters a valve station off Route 11 at Bush Road.

Mr. Doolittle did not respond to a call Tuesday seeking comment.

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