Work continues on a new $8.1 million water system in the hamlet of Port Kent.

Chesterfield Town Supervisor Gerald Morrow said still to be done are a pump station, control facility, raw water transmission lines, water filtration plant, site work, valves and property restoration.

"We will open the bids next week. We plan to start construction next month. We hope to be complete by July or August next year."

The lines to deliver the treated water were completed more than a year ago. The system is designed to leave room for future expansion as the hamlet grows.

FIRST PLAN REJECTED

Efforts to create a new water system began in 2004 after the New York State Department of Health told the town its existing spring-water system didn't meet new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards on surface-water contamination.

The town initially planned to build a municipal well system, which would have cost about $4 million.

The town planned to use $2 million from the USDA Office of Rural Development's Environmental Facilities Corp. and a $900,000 no-interest loan with a 30-year term.

That would have cost each of the hamlet's 149 users $1,200 a year. The Town Council decided that was too expensive and sought alternatives.

LAKE WATER OK'ED

At the same time, five test wells failed to find a source of enough water. In 2008, the town was able to get approval to use water from Lake Champlain. That doubled the cost of the system to $8.1 million.

In 2009, the town received word from U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand that it would get a $5.1 million grant from the USDA through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

That funding has reduced the cost to users to about $600 per year. There may eventually be between 250 and 300 users, when developments such as Harmony Golf Club and Community are finished.

Morrow said that as more users hook up, those bills should go even lower.

"We didn't want to go to the lake because of the cost, but we had to. Now, we'll have all the water we'll ever need."

THE ROUTE

The water will be drawn from Lake Champlain to a pump station near the Port Kent ferry dock. It will then be pumped to the filtration plant, to be built on Trembleau Road.

After it is treated, it will be stored in a 170,000-gallon storage tank. A gravity-feed system will distribute it throughout the hamlet.

SITE SUGGESTED

Roger Jakubowski, who closed the nearby North Country Spring Water bottling plant three years ago, said that property has more than enough water to supply the system. The water is also very clean and only required a filter the size of a pack of cigarettes for 25 years.

"Why didn't they come to me rather than spend millions?" he asked. "This water is right here, and they know it. It's all the water they need."

Morrow said he did receive a call from Jakubowski but that was well after the town had made its plans and received the necessary funding.

"I told him it was too late," Morrow said.

He also questions the claim that Jakubowski's property has enough water to supply the system.

"He hasn't proved to me he has enough water," Morrow said. "I don't think he has enough water."

Jakubowski said, at one point, the spring allowed him to fill up to 48 tractor-trailer loads a week.

Morrow said Jakubowski had to recall his bottled water in 2006 after testing revealed coliform bacteria and diatoms. Jakubowski said that water was tainted by water from one of the old springs on the property and that it cleared up after that spring was closed.

E-mail Dan Heath at:

dheath@pressrepublican.com

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