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Well. Well. Well?

Tupper might get third well

Village water department Supervisor Mark Robillard, left, and Village Mayor Paul Maroun take a look at one of Tupper Lake’s new wells in August, 2017. A third well is planned for the other side of town. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — If plans to dig a third well, this time in uptown, are successful, water department Superintendent Mark Robillard says the water quality issues that have existed in that area for years could finally be solved.

All this depends on if a preliminary well drilling proposal, approved by the village last month, unearths water.

Before 2018 village water was obtained from surface water sources — Big Tupper Lake and Little Simond Pond. Organic materials in the water, 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.

At the request of the state Department of Environmental Conservation the village dug two wells on the north end of town, out by Pitchfork Pond, eliminating the by-products in the water. However, these two have not been enough to meet the town’s demand.

The uptown area, furthest from the wells, is still supplemented with water from Little Simond Pond and the by-products are still showing up in uptown’s water. Village Mayor Paul Maroun has said in the past that the uptown water is no more dangerous than the water residents of the entire town drank for years, but it is not as safe as in downtown.

“We’ve been working on this forever but we still have this one water source that we don’t want,” village board Trustee Ron LaScala said at a Nov. 20 meeting.

The village board approved preliminary drilling and testing of a third well site on the south side of the village at last month’s board meeting, and Robillard said that if this site produces water he expects the village’s water system will eventually be 100% supplied by underground sources.

High hopes for a deep well

The board approved a proposal for further well development from HydroSource Associates, owned by Claude Cormier in Ashland, New Hampshire, for preliminary well drilling, testing and sampling. Robillard said the planned location, on Glenwood Avenue, near where Raquette River enters Little Simond Pond is close to the village’s main waterlines, which will make the plumbing convenient.

“I have high hopes for this site,” LaScala said. “I think they are going to find water.”

This plan is still tentative, though.

When the village was scouting for the Pitchfork Pond wells Cormier had flagged this location as a potential area, too, but the property owners at the time did not want a well there.

“At the time the landowner didn’t want to negotiate,” Robillard said. “It was no big deal because we ended up finding Pitchfork which ended up being the home run we were looking for.”

Now the land is under new ownership and though there is no agreement, Robillard said he hopes to solidify the site by the end of the year. Maroun said there will likely be a monetary settlement with the landowner to use their property.

LaScala said if this site works it will “put an end to our water issues once and for all.”

As long as this groundwater problem persists the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can fine the village at any time and issue a consent order for them to change it, so village board members said they hope to fix it soon.

Cancelled plans

Before these recent developments allowing the possibility of a third well the village had focused on other methods of eliminating the by-products from uptown water.

One of these methods was to aerate the water as it was removed from Little Simond Pond, pulling organic matter out of the water, so it can’t end up reacting with chlorine. Maroun said that with plans to dig a well taking shape, the plan has changed and a $40,000 preliminary engineering report on the possibility of aeration has been canceled.

“We’ve decided to put the money in the test wells and not do all that up there,” Maroun said.

He said he hopes that a new well will mean the village can eliminate water extraction from Little Simond Pond altogether.

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