Press-Republican

September 24, 2013

Village of Champlain addresses water issue

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — CHAMPLAIN — The Village of Champlain’s new Wastewater Credit Policy had the Village Board reassessing claims that were denied over the past few years.

The village has always had a policy, but the new one passed by the board in August is more definitive, according to Mayor Gregory Martin.

Now, no credits will be given if the amount of water at issue went through the sewage-treatment plant.

“We treat all the water that goes through that plant,” he said, so it’s a cost to the village.

“Your water and wastewater bills, like anywhere, are dependent on your total-water usage,” he said. “Your wastewater bill is figured from that, as well as your water bill.”

So if the water meter shows a monthly use of 1,000 gallons, it is presumed 1,000 gallons went through the wastewater plant, for example.

CLARIFIED POLICY

But, in some cases, for example if a villager fills a swimming pool, that water does not end up at the plant.

“In the past, we took a reading off their water meter, and they would fill their pool. We would go back and read it again to see how much water they put in their pool. 

“Theoretically, that water doesn’t go in the wastewater system. We would issue a credit on their wastewater bill for that amount,” Martin said. 

On the other hand, a toilet that keeps running does use more water, and that water does end up processed at the sewer plant at the far end of River Street.

The new policy is very clear, Martin said, that such extra usage would not qualify for a credit.

FORGOT WATER ON

Trustee Thomas Trombley suggested a review of back claims for possible reimbursement. 

Champlain resident Keith LaPlante made the original request, asking for a sewer credit of $990, which was approved by the Village Board in August.

“He has an indoor pool,” Martin said. “He turned the water on to fill this indoor pool. He turned the water on and forgot about it and went away for a few days.

“When the village crew was going around reading water meters the last time, they noticed the dial was spinning rapidly and they checked on it.”

The crew found water running profusely and coming out of the pool and going out a drain.

“It never reached the wastewater system,” Martin said. “You’re looking somewhere at 61,000 extra gallons.”

The village gave LaPlante a credit, he said.

The new policy will give the village a better handle on water usage.

“We have to monitor all that,” Martin said. “We have to check all that, not only being pumped but what is going through the wastewater system and what is going back into the river.”

LOW WATER PRESSURE

The board also continues to address the issue of low water pressure on Prospect Street. 

“We have a water tower up on the top of Prospect Hill,” Martin said. “It supplies water and water pressure for the whole village, as well as all of our town customers — Northeastern Clinton Central School, the border crossing in Champlain, so all of that.”

The closer a resident is located to the tower, the lower the water pressure.

“Because it’s a shorter run,” Martin said. “The first 14 residents on Prospect had very low pressure. Low pressure as defined as those under 20 pounds per square inch of water pressure.

“We’ve been wrestling this for a year. The (Clinton County) Health Department knows we have an issue there, and we’ve tried to address it.”

BOOSTER PUMPS

Residents were given the option to purchase an individual booster pump and place it on their systems.

“Then, after we inspected the installation, we would waive their service fees for their water,” Martin said. “It would give them better pressure and a little bit less on their water bill. 

“Some people wanted it and did put their own pressure pumps in, and they were happy with their discounts.”

Other residents declined to do so.

“A complaint was filed with the Health Department,” Martin said. “They have been excellent with us and working with this problem. They gave us some time lines. They’ve been very good working with the village with water issues in the past and still continue to do so.”

ASKS FOR PATIENCE

Over the past five years, the village has been working with the Town of Champlain on a project that would bring water and sewer service to Route 11 and the West Service Road.

“It’s about an $11 million project,” Martin said. “It is designed to increase and update the water and wastewater service here in the Village of Champlain and help the village to sell water and wastewater services to the Town of Champlain.”

The town doesn’t have the capacity to do so.

So far, grant applications have come to nothing.

But if it does, part of the project would be new water tower in the Village of Champlain.

“Which will address all the water-issue problems we have,” Martin said. “The new water tower will be a standalone. It will be 60 feet in the air. 

“The one we have now is currently on the ground. It (new tower) will address all these issues. 

“If people will be a little patient, we will know more in the next five or six months where this project is going,” the mayor said. “I firmly believe it will address all these issues.”

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.com