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Plans for south Jefferson waterline build momentum

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For homeowners in southwestern Jefferson County, many of whom use wells, access to municipal water pumped from Lake Ontario would be a major improvement.

Though the project could take years to come to fruition, the ambitious goal of developing a regional waterline that would tap into the water body and cross the towns of Adams, Lorraine and Ellisburg is moving forward. A feasibility study is being conducted this summer by Bernier, Carr & Associates of Watertown. The firm was hired in July for $22,500 to do the study by a committee of officials from the village and town of Adams, and towns of Ellisburg and Lorraine. The Development Authority of the North Country agreed to fund the study, which will be done in November.

“I’m hoping this study will show us who has the need for water in Adams, Ellisburg and Lorraine, and what the most economical way is to get it to them,” said Adams Town Supervisor David W. Kellogg, who launched the waterline committee in the winter. “Planning this is going to be interesting. I don’t know how long I’ll be around to steer this ship, but I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been exciting.”

This fall, the committee will decide on the best place to tap into Lake Ontario as a starting point for the line, Mr. Kellogg said. The line could be established either at the village of Sackets Harbor water plant, or by building a new plant at Southwick Beach State Park in the town of Ellisburg.

Both of those plans include pros and cons. Building the waterline from Sackets Harbor, then to Adams, Lorraine and Ellisburg, would likely be the most affordable route, Mr. Kellogg said. Building a new plant at Southwick Beach could cost well over $1 million, he said. But while the line from Sackets Harbor would be fewer than five miles long to Adams, the limestone terrain in the area would make it challenging to build.

“Almost any way you look at it, it’s solid limestone,” he said, adding that the line would also need to cross Interstate 81 and the CSX railroad.

Municipalities, meanwhile, are in desperate need of municipal water.

The village and town of Adams need more water to accommodate future residential and business growth, Mr. Kellogg said.

The town’s water comes from wells in the village of Adams, which have a limited daily output. The town can use up to 200,000 gallons of water per day, and it now uses an average of about 118,000 gallons per day.

Recent efforts led by the village to increase its supply haven’t been successful, Mr. Kellogg said. The village has drilled two additional wells in the past two years, but they’re yielding less than half of the output that was expected. The village, meanwhile, has been forced to implement emergency water declarations when the supply is extremely low.

“When the (expanded) Great Lakes Cheese plant went online, it required a lot more water than was originally expected,” he said. “So we’ve tried to find more water, and it’s gotten to the point where the village has been drilling past the gravel and into the bedrock.”

Ellisburg would like to extend municipal water service to the hamlet of Woodville, enabling it to serve dairy farms and homeowners in the area. Lorraine, which has no municipal water, wants to provide water to an area known as “the flats,” adjacent to the town and village of Adams. All properties in Lorraine use well water.

Sackets Harbor Mayor Vincent J. Battista III said the village’s water plant would be equipped to handle the output demands of a regional waterline. Last year, the village made more than $2 million in improvements at its Ambrose Street water facility, increasing its daily output by 40 percent. The village is now planning a $2.5 million project to replace a 90-year-old intake pipe that extends into Lake Ontario from its water plant at Boultons Beach off Henderson Bay. The diameter of the 3,800-foot intake pipe would be expanded from 12 to 18 inches under the plan.

“If they figure out the funding to build the line, we’ll supply the water,” Mr. Battista said.

The plant “can supply 850,000 gallons a day, and it produces 450,000,” he said. “My goal would be to add the bigger pipe to get a permit for one million gallons, so that I could add more water to be used by communities.”

DANC, meanwhile, can offer valuable expertise and leverage state and federal funding on behalf of municipalities, said James W. Wright, authority CEO. And the authority has plenty of experience planning similar projects. In 1996, it led the effort to build a $4.4 million regional waterline that carries St. Lawrence River water from Cape Vincent to Brownville along the old New York Central Railroad corridor.

Mr. Wright said that the feasibility study conducted this summer will evaluate what the cost would be for the authority to build the waterline. To make such a large project affordable for water users, securing state and federal funding to pay for capital costs would play a critical role, he said.

“If the option becomes that the authority builds the line, as it did with the western region, it would issue debt that would be factored into the water rates charged to users on the line,” Mr. Wright said.

Mr. Wright said the project falls in line with the authority’s mission of helping municipalities share services throughout the region.

“From our standpoint, it’s good for municipalities in that we help them share services,” he said. “It’s also a benefit for the authority, because it enables us to purchase specialized equipment that gets shared among the municipalities.”

Other members of the waterline committee include Ellisburg Supervisor William H. Fulkerson, Lorraine Supervisor Vincent W. Moore and Adams Mayor Philip F. Chatterton. The committee has received technical assistance from Patricia M. Pastella, water quality division manager for DANC, and Katie H. Malinowski, associate director of natural resources for the Tug Hill Commission.

So far, the four municipalities represented by the waterline committee have each contributed $1,000 to cover legal costs for the waterline proposal, Mr. Kellogg said.

Additional contributions likely will be required following the completion of the feasibility study.

Sandy Creek lines will be replaced

SANDY CREEK — Funding has been received by the town to replace aging water mains in the area surrounding the village, and construction is slated to start next spring.

The town of Sandy Creek announced it has received a $750,000 grant and $308,000 low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office to finance its Water District 2 project. Earlier this year, the town secured a $600,000 state Community Development Block Grant for the project.

The average household in District 2 will pay about $600 a year in debt service to finance the $1,658,000 project, according to the town. Supervisor Nancy L. Ridgeway said it was critical for the town to secure funding to make the project affordable for residents.

“The water mains could have been replaced immediately, but the project would have cost a typical home over $1,200 per year,” she said in a prepared statement.

Residents of the newly established District 2 have endured years of unreliable pipes that often left them without service, according to the town. In recent years, waterlines built in the 1940s and ’50s have been increasingly vulnerable to breaks.

The town has hired Barton & Loguidice, Watertown, to design the project.

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