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Salmon River water fix waiting on engineers

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FORT COVINGTON - Negotiations between the Salmon River Central School District and nearby water districts concerning a new water treatment system for the school are at a standstill as water engineers compose project proposals and crunch numbers.

SRC and Fort Covington have been speaking about the possibility of connecting the school to the town’s water district since June, requiring a full overhaul of the town’s system. But town officials have been hesitant to go in with the school for grant money, citing the prospective rise in residents’ water bills.

SRC has also recently entered negotiations with members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe about connecting to their water district — no upgrades required. Superintendent Jane Collins said the reservation has the capacity to treat up to 1.2 million gallons of water, so the school’s needs could easily be met. Ms. Collins and some board members toured the treatment system and described the system as “thorough.”

Chris Lawton of Barton & Loguidice, working for SRC and the tribe, described Fort Covington’s water system as “failing,” saying the only reason Fort Covington has not been mandated to replace its system is because it hasn’t violated any codes –– “yet”. He cited this eventuality need as an incentive to work with Salmon River now.

“The tribe’s perspective is to help bring water to the school,” Ms. Collins said. “In the end the town has to improve their water and I expect it would be an additional cost to the people. So the town has to agree on that.”

The Health Department has mandated that Salmon River find a replacement for its water system since the district’s geothermal heating and cooling system leaked in 2010, contaminating the well water. The school has been working closely with the Department of Environmental Conservation since February to remove traces of acetone, a by-product of ethanol breakdown, from the water.

At the October school board meeting, DOH representative Susan Kennedy described the school’s system as “living on borrowed time.”

Costs for the $2.4 million water system update are included in the recently passed capital project, as per DOH mandate. A bond resolution for the entire $36.5 million project, which includes extensive building renovations, passed at the last SRC school board meeting, so while school officials wait for proposals to be submitted, they can start looking at financing options.

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