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Dual water sources favored

December 16, 2008
By EMILY HUNKLER, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - Still working with the possibilities of a new groundwater source and a treatment plant, village officials agreed to keep a dual-source option on the table and seek grants for the full $14 million to fund the project.

The dual-source would require drilling a well along with building a slow-sand filtration plant for the current water source, McKenzie Pond.

In September 2007, the state Department of Health rescinded the filtration avoidance determination - meaning it's no longer OK for the village to just add chlorine to McKenzie Pond's water- and required Saranac Lake to have a plan for cleaner water implemented by April 2009. As a part of the process, the village hired engineering firm Barton and Loguidice to complete a study report that looks at the costs and benefits of building or developing different types of treatment plants and water sources.

Village Mayor Tom Michael said that although board members have agreed to keep the dual-source option on the table, they are still able to choose either the filtration plant or ground wells if they decide that building both is not the best option.

The estimated total cost of developing both the filtration plant and ground wells has dropped to $12.6 million, the cost of only a slow-sand filtration plant is $12.5 million, and only building ground wells would cost $9.5 million.

Robert Martin, head of the village Department of Public Works, and Kevin Pratt, head of the village's wastewater treatment plant, said they were in favor of the dual-source option because of the redundancy it provides. If one system is damaged or needs to be repaired, there would be a strong backup.

Currently, Lake Flower is the village's emergency water supply, but Michael said a letter from the DOH expected in February will rescind this due to harmful contaminates found in the lake - tar from an old manufactured gas plant on Payeville Road.

Trustee John McEneany said he was against developing two separate water sources.

"I am not in favor of this dual-source system," McEneany said. "I believe we should develop one or the other, and I feel that we should develop McKenzie Pond as the source."

Martin noted that if ground wells are the chosen source, the village would essentially be walking away from $10 million worth of infrastructure at McKenzie Pond.

"I personally am looking at the dual-source option, and I haven't heard anything tonight to convince me otherwise at this point," Trustee Jeff Branch said. "I think dual-source is best because I want to keep McKenzie Pond running and I'm not comfortable with Lake Flower as our backup source."

Although the dual-source option is the most costly of the three, Branch and Michael agreed that it seems to be the most sensible option at this point.

"It goes against every fiber in my existence to go with the most expensive option, but with this, that seems to be the way to go," Branch said.

Trustees Susan Waters and Christy Fontana were absent from Monday's workshop.

The official decision to allow Barton and Loguidice to complete its report and file it with the DOH is expected at the village's board meeting on Monday.


Contact Emily Hunkler at (518) 891-2600 ext. 24 or



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