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Pamelia plans to blend municipal and well water to reduce contamination level


The town of Pamelia plans to dilute excess contamination in its drinking water by mixing it with cleaner water from a privately owned well at Highland Meadows Golf Course, 24201 Route 342.

The town’s plan is the latest in the past seven years to meet drinking water requirements from the state Department of Health. Pamelia receives its treated water from the city of Watertown via a line that extends to Fort Drum and is run by the Development Authority of the North Country. The line connects to Pamelia’s water district off Route 11 at the intersection of Bush Road. The town purchases the water from DANC.

The contamination problem has affected all of the town’s residents except those in Water District 2, because that water is piped directly from the city. The water pumped to the town through the authority’s waterline tends to sit for longer periods of time, which is the main cause of contamination.

Efforts by the town to fix the problem have been fruitless, Supervisor Lawrence C. Longway said. But he is convinced that blending in well water from the golf course, which contains almost no organic material, will do the trick. The town is close to reaching an agreement with Highland Meadows owner James A. Doolittle to take water from the golf course well, which is 275 feet underground and pumps water at a rate of about 250 gallons a minute.

“The Health Department has been lenient with us about getting this done, and we decided that blending the water from the well will work best,” Mr. Longway said. “Instead of buying it all from DANC, we would be buying some of it from (Mr. Doolittle) at a similar rate.”

The town hopes to complete the project this spring. Mr. Longway said the project should cost the town about $125,000 to purchase a submersible pump and filtration system and build a water line to connect the well.

Letters sent by the town to residents this year inform them that the water is safe to drink, but that it exceeds the maximum contamination level allowed for disinfectant byproducts. Those byproducts — called trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids — are produced by the chlorine used by the city to treat the water. When chlorine travels long distances and sits for long periods without use, especially in warm weather, it has time to interact with organic matter to produce disinfectant byproducts. The organic matter comes from the Black River, where the city gets its water.

The town plans to purchase the water from Mr. Doolittle at a rate similar to what the authority charges — $2.46 per 1,000 gallons. State inspectors from the Health Department tested and approved the well water in the fall, and flow testing was done by P&T Supply and Services in Watertown.

The well at Highland Meadows is about 1,000 feet from a town water line. Under the town’s plan, well water would be injected with chlorine before a submersible pump sends it into the water line, where it will start mixing immediately with treated water from the city. The water will flow west to fill up the town water tower, behind the town office on Route 37. When the 125,000-gallon tower is full, 43,000 gallons of that water will be released back into the water main to reach houses throughout the town.

In addition to using the well as a source, the water tower will continue to be filled by the DANC line to create a blend. That water enters a valve station off Route 11.

Patrick R. Jareo, a civil engineer at P&T Supply and Services, said the town attempted to solve the problem in 2008 by flushing water out of the system, but contamination levels were still excessive.

Because the well water is harder than city-treated water because of its mineral content, Mr. Jareo said, town residents could notice a slight difference in taste once the water is blended.

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