Press-Republican

September 13, 2013

Town of Essex gains $3.1 million for water project

Lake Champlain town included in funding allocation

By KIM SMITH DEDAM Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — ESSEX — The water project slated for the Town of Essex won a $1.14 million grant.

Word came Thursday that the State Environmental Facilities Corp. also allocated a $2.01 million interest-free loan toward the work, which is still in design.

The money will establish a new and safe drinking water source for Essex residents and update failing water lines.

DOH ENFORCEMENT

In June, the Essex Town Council approved a resolution to move the water project forward.

The town is under Department of Health enforcement action because the current water supply is directly influenced by surface water and is not filtered, according to Town Council meeting minutes.

Essex Town Council members hired engineers at AES Northeast, based in Plattsburgh, “to develop a map, plan and report for the proposed improvements that incorporated the development of a new groundwater supply for the Essex water system.”

Initial engineering reports recommended two new wells and fire-flow improvements to waterlines on Main Street, Beggs Point Road and School Street in Essex.

The filtration plant on Beggs Point Road will be taken down once the new wells are in and working.

NO ADVERSE IMPACT

The proposed improvement plan earned a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

The Town Council determined “that an environmental impact statement will not be prepared and that any adverse impacts associated with the project, including noise of construction equipment, dust from disturbed soils (and) minor traffic disruptions, are temporary impacts only for the duration of the construction period (and) will not result in any long-term, adverse impacts to the environment.”

NEGOTIATING SITE

Essex Town Supervisor Sharon Boisen said she is thrilled to receive the funding, describing the project as “very important.”

“The town was issued a tribunal order by the Department of Health in late 2010 and has been working diligently on a remedy,” she said in an email to the Press-Republican, noting assistance from Jim Dougan, AES Northeast and the Essex County Planning Office.

“We are all thrilled to see our work recognized and the project moving forward.”

She said the town is negotiating with property owners for a potential well site.

“Previous successful negotiations with the Essex Fire District 1 proved futile once the test well was dug and the quantity necessary for a municipal water source was not there,” Boisen said. “Once we get over this hurdle of property negotiations, we will be well on our way to meeting our Department of Health deadlines.”

The grant portion of the request was written with assistance from Michael Mascarenas, director of the Essex County Office of Community Resources.

HISTORIC DISTRICT

The center of Essex, located on Lake Champlain, is designated as a National Historic District.

In their resolution to move forward, town councilors said they would continue to work with the New York State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate any potential threats to historic resources.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT

The money apportioned to Essex was part of a total $451.6 million statewide approved by the State Environmental Facilities Corp.

Of the total, $7.9 million was awarded in grants, and $443.7 million was allocated in low-cost financing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release that New York is investing in water and wastewater systems to protect public health.

He also said the investment supports economic growth.

“Clean-water systems contribute significantly to the overall health of a community and provide the infrastructure necessary for job growth and commercial development,” the governor said. 

“Working with municipal leaders, the state is helping localities to afford the cost of maintaining and improving this vital infrastructure.”

The Environmental Facilities Corp. spent $1.93 billion in fiscal year 2012-13. It was, the governor said, the largest, single-year total since the corporation was created in 1990.

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican.com