Placid water bills to increase as village upgrades system

From left, village plant Operator Tom VanBenschoten, village Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Hathaway and village water plant Operator Jason Endries pose inside Lake Placid’s water plant on Friday. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID — The village water system is getting an upgrade this year for the first time in more than 20 years. As a result, village residents and many North Elba residents can expect to see a price increase in their quarterly water bill starting this summer.

The upgrades are expected to begin in a month or so, according to Village Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Hathaway, and should be largely completed by the 2023 World University Winter Games.

Village Treasurer Mindy Goddeau said residential water customers in the village and town of North Elba who get their water from Lake Placid will start seeing an increase of around $10 per water bill starting this July. Commercial water customers in Lake Placid will likely see an increase of around $20 per bill. Ray Brook residents won’t see an increase from this upgrade because their water is sourced from Saranac Lake.

The upgrades, which will bring in a new computer monitoring system and updated filtration system to the facility, among other advancements, are part of a three-part revamp to the village’s water system. The village was awarded a $2.7 million state grant in 2017 through former Gov. Cuomo’s Water Infrastructure Improvement Act to upgrade the water plant, replace around 4,000 feet of aged water main underneath Main Street and construct a new 1.5 million-gallon tank next to the village’s existing tank.

At the time, the water plant project was bid at around $1.2 million, but that price tag has since risen to $4.2 million in the wake of pandemic-related drops in supply security and rises in material costs and wages. Hathaway said that the village has also found more things that need to be replaced at the plant in the last few years, adding to the final tab.

The village typically ups its water rates every couple of years, but the new project brought an extra push to the increases. The higher water rates will help the village cover its debt for the project and, once that’s paid back, Goddeau said the added money will help the village to build a reserve in the water department so any future water projects wouldn’t bring the village back into debt.

The water plant, which is next to Lake Placid, was last updated in 2000. Hathaway said the water coming through village residents’ faucets is good, but the plant needs to be brought up to state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Some of the equipment at the plant is getting older and parts are harder to come by. Some parts for the filtration system are expensive and hard to find because they aren’t being produced anymore; the electronic system that helps water plant workers monitor activity at the plant, the supervisory control and data acquisition system, still runs on the Windows XP operating system released in 2001.

The upgrades will bring in a new SCADA system that will be more efficient and help cut down on employee hours. The old system would alert employees if there was a problem at the plant during the night, but wouldn’t say exactly what was going on. Workers had to physically travel to the plant to check out the problem. The new system will specify any issues that occur, and employees will have the power to shut down operations remotely if they need to.


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