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Little progress made as Adams Town Council, scientists review water options

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ADAMS — After two hours of reviewing the town’s geology, Town Council members and other interested parties from the area found themselves with little new progress as they continue their search for a new water supply.

“It’s going to be kind of tough ... the sources are so scattered here,” Supervisor David W. Kellogg said. “It’s going to be a long search.”

Officials were walked through the area’s geology and its ties to the Tug Hill aquifer by Todd S. Miller, a recently retired hydrogeologist for the U.S. Geological Survey who has worked in the area for 37 years.

The 103-square-mile aquifer covers portions of Jefferson, Oswego and Oneida counties.

“By the time you get as north as Adams Center, it gets pretty thin,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Kellogg said the town’s location creates a misconception about the ease of finding water.

“Everybody that’s seen the Tug Hill aquifer map thinks all you have to do is punch a hole in the ground and water comes out,” he said.

The town has sought its own water source after years of shortages in the village of Adams, its main supplier, and the desire of some residents to join the Adams Center Water District.

The presentation took place Wednesday afternoon at the town and village office, 3 S. Main St.

Areas that were highlighted included land near Spook Hill Road, North Harbor Road, South Harbor Road, Route 177, Michaels Road and County Route 76. However, many of the areas did not have sufficient depth before hitting bedrock or recent enough data to create certainty about the water supply.

Options for working around the issue include drilling into the bedrock, which is primarily limestone for the town area, or areas that feature coarse sand instead of gravel.

The practice is less common in New York than other states, and can create additional costs for filtering.

The consensus following the meeting was that more research was necessary to determine areas for further exploration.

Katie H. Malinowski, natural resources director of the Tug Hill Commission, said she was encouraged by the municipal interest in further exploring the aquifer’s resources.

“The more brains you have on it, the more wells being drilled, the better,” she said.

Edward F. Bugliosi, a hydrogeologist and office chief for the USGS New York Water Science Center, Ithaca, said mapping research funded by the state over the past few years had researchers “heading toward getting enough to paint a pretty good picture.” Mr. Bugliosi said his long-term goal was to have a computer model of the aquifer made that would help track its water supply.

Mr. Kellogg said he would discuss the town’s options further with its engineering firm, Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, at the council’s February meeting.

The town’s search comes as the village looks for sources to expand its own output. Mayor Patricia C. Sweetland, who arrived at the village and town office after the meeting ended, said the village was waiting for results of drilling work it had requested. She said the village is reviewing the amount of available water on multiple sites it already owns. Two of them are current well sites.

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