Sewer upgrades planned all over Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE — An engineering firm the village has contracted with for ongoing water and sewer upgrades presented projects to be undertaken over the next two years at Monday night’s Board of Trustees meeting.

“The main project is the sewer main project that we’ve been working on for six or seven years at this point,” said Gregory Sward, head of water resources department at AES Northeast. “Actually comprised of seven or eight individual projects — we’ve completed six of them so far.”

To complete the upgrades, the village was awarded a $1 million grant and took out a zero percent interest loan for $3 million.

After what has already been done in recent years — including work on the LaPan Highway sewer main, the Broadway sewer main and the Lake Flower pump station, $446,941 in grant funds remain, as well as $1,340,822 in loaned money, according to AES documents.

The total cost for the projects to do currently scheduled projects in 2019 is estimated to be $1.2 million.

The total cost for the projects recommended for 2020 is $1.5 million.

Additionally, AES outlined several grant opportunities that the village can apply for to fund additional projects.


Under AES’s current contract and schedule, it’s set to replace the sewer main on Brandy Brook Avenue. It would also replace two lateral pipes by Fogarty’s Lake Flower Marina that are attached to an old sewer main.

The sewer main was left in place in the early 1970s and leaks, Sward said. By replacing the laterals, the village can abandon the leaky main all together.

“But what that does do is it leaves about $1.5 million left to spend,” Sward said.

AES recommended two additional projects to be carried out in 2019.

The first is a replacement of the McKenzie Pond Road sewer main from the corner of River Street to Payeville Lane.

“That pipe is undersized — we’ve had it inspected,” Sward said.

Another proposed addition is a reroute of a sewer main running through the Church Street parking lot under 151 Church St., the old Key Bank building.

A portion of the 1970s clay tile pipe was crushed when the building was constructed in the late ’90s. According to village officials, they don’t have the right-of-way to get in and replace the broken section.

AES is proposing to put in a new pipe circumventing the property at an estimated cost of around $200,000. Mayor Clyde Rabideau was not sold on the idea.

“If we’ve got to jackhammer a 5 or 6-foot-square hole in the ground, and replace it, wouldn’t we save a lot of money?” Rabideau said.

Sward agreed that it would, but that the village as it stands does not have rights to do so. Rabideau said the village would work to negotiate with the whoever buys the property. Other possible options floated at the meeting were to look at getting at the pipe through adverse possession, or possibly look at coming at the crushed section of pipe from the side, to save money.

Sward said that depending on how long it takes for the issue to get sorted out, AES may suggest the project be pushed back to 2020.


Sward presented five projects to be done in 2020 if funding is still available depending on what grants the village is possibility awarded, and what the results of the 2019 bid process are.

The first is the replacement of a section of the Payeville Lane sewer main.

Next, pending funding, is the reconstruction of the Payeville Lane water main and road reconstruction. In order to pay for it, AES is suggesting the village apply for a state Office of Community Renewal grant for water and road repair. The water main is 100 years old, built around 1917 from toolable cast iron, Sward said. AES would replace around 1,500 feet of pipe that services around 20 houses.

“So the useful life on a pipe we put in today is 75 years. We expect it to last longer. But certainly at a hundred years, we’re pushing it,” Sward said.

AES is also proposing to install a liner to repair the Church Street sewer main. To do this, crews would insert a felt liner soaked in resin, then flush steam through the pipe, hardening the material into what is essentially plastic, Sward said.

Last year, there were issues during construction of the Woodruff Street siphon, which dragged on for months as contractors halted work on installing a pipe under the river. The purpose of this pipe was to allow the existing siphon to be serviced.

It is now time to clean and inspect the old siphon.

“It may not be need to be lined, but it does need to be inspected,” Seward said.

He said the impact on the Woodruff Street businesses would be minimal, with crews working in the early morning hours around 2 a.m. for several days.

The last proposed project for 2020 is the replacement of the Pontiac Avenue sewer line. The pipe is clay tile, installed before the 1950s, Seward said. It’s a 6-inch pipe, and installing a liner would make it too narrow.

However, the scope of this project depends on ongoing discussions between the state Department of Environmental Conservation and AES. The DEC mandated that the village replace 600 feet of sewer main along Brandy Brook Avenue.

AES got a private design done for the replacement, and contracted with the DEC for the agency to replace the line during the Brandy Brook remediation work that took place last year.

“The DEC essentially reneged on that agreement,” Sward said.

He added that it would be cost prohibitive to rip the street back up to replace the main at this point, and he is instead in talks with the DEC to make it a long-term maintenance item.

“It’s one of those lines that would be great if it was replaced. That’d be ideal, but it does function,” Sward said. “It requires cleaning twice a year by village staff.”

He said AES is meeting the DEC in a couple of weeks to hammer that out.

Wastewater treatment plant

Sward also suggested that the village apply for two grants to assist with the DEC-mandated ultraviolet disinfection facility to be installed at the village’s wastewater treatment plant by 2022.

The first is a $500,000 from the Northern Border Regional Commission with no cost to apply. The grant is part of a new economic development program by the federal-state partnership for distressed counties in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

If the village is awarded the grant, AES has estimated $15,000 in administrative costs.

The village voted Monday night to authorize village Manager John Sweeney to begin the application process, as the application is due by May 10.

The second grant is another from the OCR, at $1 million. It would cost $2,000 to apply for and $15,000 to administer if awarded.

What’s next

At a future board meeting, the village Board of Trustees will vote to continue with the current scope of projects, or add the 2020 scope. They would also vote to whether to amend the AES contract to expand the 2019 and/or the 2020 scope to include the firm’s suggested projects.

The board will also vote in the future on whether to apply for the OCR grant to fund replacing the Payeville Lane water main. The next board meeting is May 13.