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Carthage/West Carthage joint sewer upgrade seeking funding

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CARTHAGE — Funding continues to be a problem for the proposed renovations to the Carthage/West Carthage Water Pollution Control Facility.

Last year, the joint sewer management board hired GHD Consulting Engineers LLC, Cazenovia, to conduct a grant-funded study of plant improvements. The suggested $8.5 million upgrade essentially would rebuild the 40-year-old plant.

Charles Prior, GHD engineer, reported at the August meeting the company was notified the villages do not qualify for hardship funding at zero percent financing from the state Environmental Facilities Corp.

The agency determined the projected annual service charge per equivalent dwelling unit of $303 is less than the target service charge of $446.

On Mr. Prior’s recommendation, the joint sewer board will submit a comment letter to the agency challenging the way it scored the project. Mr. Prior said the agency allocated a score of only 10 for the consent order the plant had been issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which should have added 25 points.

The joint sewer plant was issued a consent order in 2012 due to Carthage Specialty Paperboard, formerly Climax Paperboard and Packaging, discharging wastewater with higher pH or acidity levels than were acceptable.

With higher scoring, the project would be in a better position to qualify for a 1.8 percent financing rate.

The board discussed additional means to gain points in the application, including obtaining other outside funding.

The project engineers have finalized an application to obtain funding through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and are anticipating $7,500 reimbursement.

In addition, the Carthage community development coordinator has submitted a consolidated funding application to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, and that organization has listed the sewer plant upgrade as a top priority project.

The application requests $3.8 million, including $900,000 from the Community Development Block Grant program. If the grant is awarded, $2.9 million would be applied to upgrades at Carthage Speciality Paperboard, which will benefit the sewer plant project.

The paper plant is moving forward with installation of an equalization tank to adjust the wastewater’s pH.

West Carthage Mayor Scott M. Burto suggested that since funding is a problem, sewer plant renovations could be done in phases and possibly in the second part of the project more funding will be available.

During the engineering report, Carrie M. Tuttle, director of engineering for the Development Authority of the North Country, which oversees the plant’s operations, said she and water quality supervisor Bart Crary have weekly meetings about “what is breaking at the treatment plant.”

“I am very nervous of balancing what needs to be repaired to avoid catastrophic failure,” Ms. Tuttle said.

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