COLLINS LANDING The town of Orleans plans to run a municipal water line along Route 12 from Collins Landing to Fishers Landing, an area that long has suffered from salt contamination originating from a state Department of Transportation maintenance facility next to Interstate 81.
The sewer is basically there; the water is not. And then theres the contamination, Supervisor Kevin C. Rarick said.
Orleans voted recently to go after state grants worth $600,000 to pay for the designs and initiate what likely will be a multimillion-dollar construction project.
Town engineers with Fourth Coast Inc., Clayton, have said that the scope of the project ultimately will depend on the amount of funding the town can secure and that the costs would be covered mostly through low-interest loans.
In April, Orleans started testing wells to determine whether the contamination of groundwater in Collins Landing had spread to Grass Point State Park and Fishers Landing.
The testing almost is complete and the town has initiated the State Environmental Quality Review process to create a water district.
Town attorney James A. Burrows said the town is trying to be proactive to provide drinking water for residents and businesses along the corridor by starting the lengthy process of creating a formal water district sooner rather than later.
The town is still months away from forming a district, he said.
This spring, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, joined the effort to resolve the issue by asking affected residents for input and sending a letter to Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald.
In her letter, Sen. Ritchie said the contamination, which DOT has acknowledged, is hindering development along the Route 12 corridor. She also suggested that damages should be paid in a timely manner and the department should take every step to see the issue properly resolved.
DOT has been providing affected property owners with bottled water, but residents argue that it is merely a short-term fix for a decades-long problem.
Many area residents and business owners were made aware of the issue in 2002, but some suspect that road salt had been seeping slowly into the ground for more than 60 years.
Orleans officials also plan to sit down with the Alexandria town board hoping to combine efforts, which would give the two municipalities a better shot at securing state and federal funding for clean water projects.