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Saranac Lake begins switch to new water source

November 29, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The next time you go to get a drink from your kitchen faucet, the water may be coming from an aquifer deep below the ground instead of from McKenzie Pond.

The village has begun the process of switching over from what has been the community's water source for more than a century to a pair of wells that have been drilled behind the village wastewater treatment plant.

"Both wells are fully operational now," village Sewer Plant Operator Kevin Pratt told the village Board of Trustees Monday. "There were some problems with pressure loss in them. The company that installed the wells came up and took care of the problems. They're now holding pressure."

Pratt said he plans to use both water sources as a dual system for a couple of weeks and then switch over completely to the well system once he's confident it's running properly. The village's existing water storage tank, located off of View Street, will also be phased out.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau asked Pratt if he expects any problems with running a significant volume of water, under pressure, in the opposite direction on some of the village's main water lines.

"We've slowly done that, and we've seen no issues with water quality, water line breaks or anything like that at this point," Pratt said.

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Pratt told the Enterprise that if people experience any problems with their water service or water quality, they should contact the village. The main village phone number is 518-891-4150.

Village Manager John Sweeney said the massive, state-mandated $12.5 million water overhaul is now 97 percent complete.

"This is about the last portion of the major water project," he said.

Construction of the new water system began in mid-August of last year. In addition to drilling the two wells and connecting them, under the Saranac River, to the current water system, the project has involved construction of a new 1.15-million-gallon water storage tank on the side of Mount Pisgah and a long list of water distribution system improvements throughout the village.

The village was forced to upgrade its water system in 2007 after the state Department of Health rescinded the village's exemption from having to filter water from McKenzie Pond because periodic testing found levels of haloacetic acids - a compound formed by the use of chlorine as a disinfectant that can be hazardous to people's health - had exceeded state and federal standards by 1 microgram per liter. Village officials said at the time that the village's water quality hadn't changed; the state and federal standards had gotten tougher. McKenzie Pond has been the village's water source since roughly 1900.

Initially, the village considered building a water filtration plant so it could continue to use the pond; however, village officials were concerned that standards for surface water sources could change again, making the filtration plant inadequate. The village board voted in October 2009 to develop two wells behind the sewer plant.

The project is being financed by a $10.5 million no-interest loan the village was awarded in 2011 from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation, and a $2 million EFC grant.


Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or



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