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DeChantal Apartments pipe issues blamed on village water system

SARANAC LAKE — The manager of the DeChantal Apartments says the Church Street high-rise has had major plumbing issues since the village switched to a new source of water.

In a letter to village Manager John Sweeney, Wayne Feinberg says the DeChantal’s hot water pipes “have been rotting out at an alarming rate” since the village changed over to a groundwater-based system in 2012.

The village now draws its water from a pair of wells located behind its wastewater treatment plant; previously, McKenzie Pond was the village water source.

“Pipes that we have replaced in the last two years are rotting out from the inside again,” Feinberg wrote in the Dec. 9 letter. “There does not yet appear to be any issues with the cold water.”

He said the DeChantal’s water was tested, “and the lab indicated there are higher levels of minerals in the water that, when heated, make it more acidic, which has led to the damages we are facing.”

To date, Feinberg said the DeChantal has had to make $20,000 worth of repairs to its plumbing system. He said he believes other big water users around the village incurred similar problems.

“At this point, we are looking for the village’s stance on our problem and what course of action is being planned to rectify things,” Feinberg wrote. “Our plumber, Tom Hall, has been in touch with the water department and the village has tested our water several times. Tom indicates that there has been an awareness of the issue but there does not seem to be any action to acknowledge the issue, accept or place blame for being responsible for it or do anything to rectify the problem.”

Feinberg suggested the village could add anti-corrosives or other chemicals to the water to neutralize the effect of the minerals when it’s heated.

A copy of the letter was sent to the local state Health Department office. It was also included in the agenda packet for Tuesday’s village board meeting. Trustee Paul Van Cott asked Sweeney where things stand on the issue.

“Other than we’ve been in touch with Barton and Loguidice, who did the original design (for the water system), and their chemist, that’s where we are right now,” Sweeney said. “We’re getting some tests together, and we’re getting them off for them to review.

As to the claim that other large water users reported the same issues, Sweeney said that’s the first he’s heard of it. Van Cott asked if it would be worth checking on with water users like Adirondack Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment Centers and the Harrietstown Housing Authority, which runs the Kiwassa Road high-rise apartments.

“We can do that,” Sweeney said.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau suggested that it’s too early to jump to conclusions.

“When I was in college we took a logic class,” he said. “One of the things we studied was called the post hoc fallacy: If b happens after a, does that mean a caused b.? No. It doesn’t. You need a lot more research into it.

“I don’t think there’s an instant causal concern at the present without additional information.”

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