PLATTSBURGH — The Town of Keene Highway Department's wells are contaminated with sodium and chlorides.
Thanks to a $695,856 grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, though, the town is building a new salt-storage facility to replace the currently uncovered salt pile that caused the pollution.
New York state has awarded more than $9.2 million in new grants to Adirondack local governments such as Keene, as well as various organizations.
The funds are for projects that will improve water quality by curbing pollution and limiting road salt contamination in the Adirondack Park’s lakes and rivers.
That includes Lake Champlain.
"We're tremendously grateful," said Keene Town Supervisor Joe Wilson. "It's a project we never would have been able to do without this support."
Another $1.03 million was recently awarded for projects that will advance cultural and scientific development in the Adirondack Park’s communities.
Those include a new arts center at the Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake and a new astro-sciences center at the Adirondack Public Observatory in Tupper Lake.
Franklin County was awarded $200,000 for the latter project, with funds coming from the Empire State Development Corporation to design a LEED-certified astro-sciences building as phase three of the space observatory’s campus in Tupper Lake.
The awards were made through the Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils.
“These additional grants from the governor and the state of New York will help protect the Adirondack Park’s purest waters and public health,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway in a press release.
“The park’s 130,000 year-round residents can’t afford to provide state-of-the-art facilities to host more than 12 million annual visitors all by themselves.
The REDC grants come from a number of initiatives, including the Water Quality Improvement Project Program, a competitive, statewide grant program open to local governments and not-for-profit corporations for projects that address water-quality impairments or protect a drinking water source.
Eligible projects include municipal wastewater treatment; nonpoint source pollution abatement and control from non-farm sources; land acquisition projects for source water protection, salt storage; aquatic habitat restoration; and municipal storm sewer systems.
Other funds come from the DEC and New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant Program and the Green Innovation Grant Program.
The latter grants are administered by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and are funded with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Grants issued to Adirondack communities and organizations included programs operated by the DEC, the Department of State and the Office of Housing and Community Renewal.
Here's a list of who gets other awards in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties:
• Essex County, $296,650 from DEC for stormwater/erosion control; funds will purchase a vacuum truck to remove sediment from catch basins within 18 towns whose rivers and streams drain into Lake Champlain.
• Essex County, $744,134 from the DEC to build a road salt storage facility at the Department of Public Works garage in Elizabethtown. The current uncovered pile is located near Barber’s Pond and is a few hundred feet from the Highway Department's drinking-water wells and some residential properties.
• Essex County Soil & Water Conservation District, $59,000 from DEC to construct “green infrastructure,” such as rain gardens to prevent storm runoff containing silt, road salt and other pollution from reaching Lake Champlain unfiltered.
• Franklin County Soil & Water Conservation District, $316,598 from DEC to implement the second phase of a roadside erosion control program in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties to better protect Lake Champlain and its tributaries.
• Town of Lewis, $750,000 from Housing and Community Renewal for a new water main and associated work on the public water system.
• Town of Newcomb, $359,643 from DEC to build a new salt shed outside the hamlet, away from lakes and residents’ drinking water.
• Town of Peru, $30,000 from the DEC for an engineering study to evaluate the current wastewater-treatment system and recommend improvements to better protect Lake Champlain.
• Town of Saranac, $907,348 from Housing and Community Renewal for improvements to the Standish Water District.
• Village of Saranac Lake, $100,000 from DEC for an engineering study to assess the condition of the wastewater treatment plant and system and reduce overflows.
• Village of Tupper Lake, $100,000 from DEC for an engineering study to assess the condition of the treatment plant and reduce overflows.
• Town of Willsboro, $30,000 from the DEC for an engineering study to investigate a solution to failing septic systems in the Buena Vista neighborhood to protect Lake Champlain.
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