By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — TICONDEROGA — The latest test well is the best yet in the search for a new drinking-water source for the Town of Ticonderoga, according to town officials.
The well, located on the east side of Route 9N in the town’s Streetroad hamlet, generates 1,500 gallons per minute, which is 700 gallons more than required by state standards.
The town is contracting with hydrogeologist Claude Cormier of HydroSource Associates Inc. of Ashland, N.H., for the test wells.
“Claude found the mother lode,” Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said in an email.
“We just received the water-quality tests back. The preliminary quality tests are excellent, and the quantity far exceeds the daily needs for the entire town. This is a huge success for the Ticonderoga water project.”
She said State Department of Health representatives looked at the report and told her they are pleased with the results.
“The next step is the well recharge test. If recharge is successful, then we’re on to installing the production well.”
That test will be done in the next few days, she said, with a functioning municipal well possible in 2014.
The municipal well, which Malaney said was “strongly suggested” by the Department of Health in correspondence with the town, will replace Gooseneck Pond and Lake George as the community’s main water sources.
Gooseneck and Lake George systems will still be used, she said, and will be upgraded, but will no longer be the primary drinking-water sources for Ticonderoga.
The estimated cost for the well project is $14 million, which also includes improvements to Gooseneck and Lake George to keep them operational.
Malaney said the cost to convert filtration plants at Gooseneck Pond and Lake George was more than double the cost of the well.
“We had every Gooseneck option studied and found, at today’s costs, the $30 million-plus project was unaffordable and still could not supply the entire town with water. We also studied the Lake George filtration plant as the primary and found its cost and location prohibitive.”
She said Gooseneck and Lake George plants were damaged by severe storms in 2011 and 2012.
“We aren’t confident our old systems will withstand another Hurricane Irene or Sandy. The vulnerability of the systems and declining water quality is exactly why New York state mandated us to upgrade or replace (them).”
They are looking at a groundwater source because it requires less chemical treatment, less operation and maintenance costs and is overall much less expensive to operate than the technology used for surface-water filtration plants, Malaney said.
In 2009, the Department of Health ordered the town to replace or cover Gooseneck Reservoir, which was built in 1931.
The town first proposed replacing the reservoir with storage tanks, but an inspection found deterioration in the Gooseneck Pond Dam and the water mains there.
During another inspection, the state also ascertained that the Baldwin Road filtration plant, which draws Lake George water, was failing.
Some residents of Streetroad had expressed concerns that a municipal well there could affect their residential wells, but Malaney said the engineers on the project, AES Northeast of Plattsburgh, assured them it likely would not.
The town also agreed to cover the costs if new, deeper wells had to be drilled for residents.
The project cost is being offset with more than $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 project is down to approximately $11 million because of the town’s diligence in applying for funding and grants,” Malaney said.
“More funding opportunities are coming in 2014, which will offset even more costs, payable over 30 years.”
The state has mandated that the new groundwater source or the mandatory upgrades be in place by 2016, she said, or the town could face fines of up to $37,000 a day.
Email Lohr McKinstry:firstname.lastname@example.org