May 6, 2013

Dannemora salt water problem continues


---- — DANNEMORA — Frustration continues to mount for residents of Ledgers Corners in Dannemora, who still can’t drink their water.

“We didn’t cause this problem, yet we are the ones who have to deal with it,” Jeff King said at a recent meeting at Dannemora Town Hall.

About 50 people showed up at the meeting hoping to get some answers to how to resolve the salt contamination in their water supplies that they’ve been dealing with for years.

The contamination is believed to be linked to a nearby State Department of Transportation salt shed on Route 374 near Plank Road, but that has not been confirmed by the state.


After more than a decade of local suspicion about the source, an official state investigation into the contamination began in early 2012.

Results showed about four dozen wells have been tested in the area with at least 18 of them showing high levels of chloride (a form of salt), two with unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria and three with detectable levels of cyanide, reportedly an inert form contained in a compound that prevents caking in salt.

Affected residents have been receiving bottled water from the state.

But not everyone is being treated equally, King said.

There are those whose wells showed higher levels of chloride than others, yet the state refuses to provide them with bottled water, he said. 

Also, some wells right next door to other wells that have been tested have been bypassed.

“What’s wrong with this picture?” King said. “Everyone should be tested.”


Michael Flick of the DOT in Watertown said more testing is being scheduled. He also said bottled water is given to those with wells that show levels of chloride at 250 mg per liter or higher.

One possible solution to the salt problem is creating a water district for the area, connecting to the system that serves Clinton Correctional Facility in the Village of Dannemora. But King said every well needs to be tested in order to figure out the best route for a district.

The question of payment for a public system is also a concern.

Town Supervisor Americo “Ves” Pivetta said he has received no assurances from the state that funding will be made available for a water district.

“Nobody knows anything yet,” he said.

Flick said the town must take the lead on creating a water district, but there is no answer yet as to whether funding will be available.

“There are some issues that still have to be reconciled.” he said.


King said the bad water has not only affected daily living, it is damaging their property investments.

“Our assessments are too high, and we can’t borrow money or sell our property because of this salt contamination,” he said.

Town Assessor Leon Brousseau said he sympathizes with the residents, but explained that assessments are based largely on sales of other properties in the area.

He suggested that those who believe their property is valued too high attend Grievance Day at the Town Hall on May 23.

In the meantime, King and others urged residents continue to pound the state with emails and calls demanding that they fix the problem.

“Badger the heck out of them” said Clinton County Legislator Jonathan Beach (R-Area 2, Altona) who represents Dannemora.

“That’s the only thing that gets them to move.”

Email Joe



Ledgers Corners residents can request well testing and bottled water by calling Jim Ayers at (315) 785-2318.