Press-Republican

January 23, 2013

In My Opinion: Champlain water use, cost explained

By GREGORY R. MARTIN
Press-Republican

---- — I would like to respond to a letter that was printed in the Jan. 14 edition of the Press-Republican entitled “Champlain Water.”

First, the abnormally high reading of “unaccounted for” water (22 million gallons) on the 2011 Annual Water Report was found to be caused by a malfunctioning water meter at the water plant.

The Village of Champlain is aggressively looking to replace the existing meter with an updated meter so that more accurate numbers can be recorded.

A review of the daily logs for 2012 reveals that the village produced 32.8 million gallons and delivered (billed for) 30.5 million gallons, leaving 2.3 million gallons lost due to flushing, leaks and fire protection.

This 7 percent “unaccounted for water” is well within the accepted standard for a municipal system.

Second, the village use of water accounts for 70 percent of the total amount of water produced by the village, followed by the Town of Champlain users at 13 percent, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 12 percent and Northeastern Clinton Central School at 5 percent.

The village residents are responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the water plant, the infrastructure of the water system and repaying the debt incurred by building and installing the water system.

The village does not impose a service fee on any of the outside users, depending only on the bulk sale of water.

Third, an important point to make is that the rates have remained steady over the past four years for both the village residents and the town outside users. The recent increase in rates on the Town of Champlain districts was imposed by the Town Council when the service fees were increased.

Fourth, the village has been able to maintain the steady rates for water and wastewater by purchasing needed chemicals and equipment early and in bulk to save money. The village recently refinanced its remaining water system debt at a much lower interest rate and reduced the length of the loan, thereby saving the village approximately $80,000 over the life of the loan.

The wastewater rates have been subsidized by private septage haulers, which provides revenue to the village to reduce the need to increase wastewater rates for all users.

The village is researching ways to increase the efficiency of both the water and wastewater plants to reduce the cost of operation.

Finally, the Village of Champlain has in the past and will continue into the future to provide safe, cost-effective water and wastewater services to both its residents and outside users.

Gregory Martin is mayor of the Village of Champlain.