By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — TICONDEROGA — The town is very close to locking in a new drinking-water source for the community, Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney says.
The second of two test wells has been drilled off Route 9N in Ticonderoga’s Streetroad hamlet.
“As of (Friday), the initial water quantity tests are very, very encouraging,” Malaney said. “We’ll know more in a week or so when the water quality tests come back.”
It’s important to keep in mind it’s a test well, she said, not the final commercial well that would have to be drilled to supply the public system.
UPGRADE OR NEW SOURCE
She said the state has mandated that a groundwater source replace Gooseneck Pond and Lake George as the town’s primary water supply.
The alternative would be to upgrade facilities at Gooseneck and Lake George, but that would cost more than drilling a well, Malaney said.
“The total cost to bring the Gooseneck system back into compliance as the primary source is estimated to be $32 million, along with much needed repairs to the Lake George system,” she said in an email.
“The infrastructure for these sources is no longer in compliance with new state and federal requirements, and the State Department of Health is requiring the town to either upgrade these facilities or look for a new source of water.”
The state has mandated that the new groundwater source or the mandatory upgrades be completed by 2016, she said.
Malaney said the town has pursued groundwater for the town’s needs as a cost-effective alternative to making major improvements to delivery of the existing sources.
The first test well drilled in the Streetroad hamlet showed adequate water production, while the second one just sunk has even greater potential, she said.
Some Streetroad residents have expressed concern that a community well there could reduce the amount of water they get from their residential wells, but Malaney said the town’s engineers have assured them that won’t happen and there is an adequate supply for all.
The supervisor said the State Department of Health, State Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency have all gotten involved in the process. The town has hired engineers from AES Northeast of Plattsburgh and hydrogeologists from HydroSource Associates Inc. of Ashland, N.H.
“They all have helped us plan to replace the town’s aging infrastructure and for compliance with current and future regulations and the need for safe drinking water,” Malaney explained.
The State Department of Health has the town under a consent order, she said, and the town is now pursuing a $14 million project to use groundwater and increase treatment on the source from Gooseneck Pond.
‘ALL FUNDING AVENUES’
The cost is being offset with $2 million in state grant funds received so far and another $4 million in grant applications that the town expects to have confirmation on before the end of the year.
“The town has been actively pursuing all avenues to obtain grant funding and low-cost loans to minimize the financial burden on users,” Malaney said.
“That brings the project down to the $8 to $10 million range, certainly no small amount, but far less than the total that would be needed to completely rehab the Gooseneck and Lake George water supplies.”
LONGTIME WATER ISSUES
Time is of the essence because of the consent order, she said.
“So far, the state has recognized that the town is working diligently to meet its goals and in the past has worked hand-in-hand with the town as the project has moved forward.
However, if the town falters in their progress to move the project forward, it is likely that the state will step in and issue substantial fines.”
She said the issue is not a new one.
“Despite the fact that Ticonderoga is surrounded by water, the town has a long history of insufficient water supply. Since the 1940s, the village and town have faced compliance issues with water quality standards and an aging infrastructure with portions dating back to the late 1800s.”
OLD, NEW SOURCES
The Village of Ticonderoga dissolved in 1994, and the town took over its functions.
Malaney said they’ve sought the input of residents though several informational meetings.
“Town residents have clearly said they want to keep Gooseneck and Lake George as sources. As a result, the proposed project includes elements that will allow the town to maintain its existing sources as well as incorporate the new source into the distribution system.”
Gooseneck Pond will probably be used to supply just the town’s Chilson hamlet, she said, with Lake George as a backup water supply.
“In the end, simply pouring money into unpredictable Gooseneck and Lake George water systems cannot be the only answer for the town’s water supply. Those two water sources, together with groundwater, will provide the Town of Ticonderoga with what it needs: compliant, safe and reliable drinking water sources.”
Malaney said she’s confident the town will meet the 2016 deadline for a new water source.
Email Lohr McKinstry:firstname.lastname@example.org