Work will start soon to switch Tupper to well water

The old water treatment plant will not be used for village water anymore when Tupper Lake switches to well water, saving money on treatment and requiring less chemicals. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The village is well on its way to having a cheaper and less chemical-dependent source for water, a well.

While the water currently pulled from Big Tupper Lake and Little Simond Pond is treated with a handful of chemicals, well water only requires chlorine to be added.

The current process of treating the water in two different plants puts a heavy cost on village taxpayers in overtime and chemicals. The water at the plant must be backwashed, filters must be cleaned, and chemical levels must be checked every day, including weekends.

Following a pre-construction meeting on July 31, work on the well will continue into the spring of 2018, when the village’s water will shift sources. Village Mayor Paul Maroun says the change in the direction of water flow within the pipes under the village will cause sediment to come loose for a little while immediately following the shift.

The well project, as of now, costs $6,209,808 and is funded mostly through grants and loans. A state Environmental Facilities Corporation grant for $1 million, a $2 million grant and an interest-free loan for $3,209,808 cover the cost.

Water rates will rise to pay off the loan. Both the village and the town water districts, which are supplied by the village, are seeing water rates go up by $4.20 to compensate the loan for this project. These raises have already been in effect for over a year, bringing village taxes to $21.20 and town taxes to $28.40 in water districts supplied through the village.

Maroun also helped acquire a $1.5 million grant from the Empire State Development Corporation to improve water pressure and fire protection in water district 3, which includes the Tupper Lake Country Club and site of the Adirondack Club and Resort development. A condition of the grant was that the village match $500,000, so more grants are needed to fund that grant. With $250,000 from the Northern Border Commission, $50,000 from ACR developers and $50,000 from the state through Sen. Betty Little, the $150,000 needed to make up the difference will be paid by taxpayers in their tax bills through an undetermined number of years.

The change in water district 3 gives improvements to the town through the services the village contracts out. Town residents will be billed for the construction through taxes they pay to the village.

“The governor is wanting local government to come together and share services, and join projects like this,” town Supervisor Patricia Littlefield said.

A second main water line will be installed under McLaughlin Avenue, connecting uptown and downtown Tupper Lake. This connection will allow the two tanks to be connected with a computer-regulated system which will keep water circulating through the two main tanks in the village.

In the past years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has asked municipalities to draw water from underground instead of using surface water. In 2014, the state Department of Heath determined the village water was over the safe zone for by-products of the disinfection process. Organic materials such as leaves or algae can form trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids as water is treated with chlorine disinfection. Both these by-products have been linked to harmful side effects after prolonged exposure, including an increased risk for cancer.

The new well water will not contain these by-products and will be cheaper to run without the chemicals and overtime caused by the current filtration system.

“It is going to be better really for taste, quality and control of the whole plant process,” Maroun said.