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Regional waterline in southwestern Jefferson County to be studied by DANC, Tug Hill Commission

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Tapping into Lake Ontario as the source for a regional waterline in southwest Jefferson County will be explored by the state Tug Hill Commission and the Development Authority of the North Country.

The village and town of Adams and the towns of Ellisburg and Lorraine have given approval for the commission and DANC to develop a request for proposals this spring for a study exploring where the waterline could be built, Adams Town Supervisor David W. Kellogg said.

A committee of municipal officials that was formed this fall has decided the regional waterline could be established either off Lake Ontario at the village of Sackets Harbor water plant, or at Southwick Beach State Park in the town of Ellisburg.

“The study will look at the existing systems we have and make some suggestions to us as to how we might approach this,” Mr. Kellogg said. “This would be an expensive project, done in sections and spread out over time.”

The effort to consider building the regional waterline was spearheaded by the town of Adams, whose growth potential is limited without boosting its water supply, Mr. Kellogg said. The town’s water now comes from wells in the village of Adams. The village has drilled two additional wells in the past two years, but they are producing less than half of what was anticipated.

Water at the Sackets Harbor plant, at Boultons Beach off Henderson Bay, is drawn directly from Lake Ontario through a 3,000-foot, 18-inch-diameter pipe. The plant supplies water to the village and the town of Hounsfield. Southwick Beach State Park operates its own water plant, but it is not large enough to meet the needs of municipalities, Mr. Kellogg said. If that site is considered for the regional waterline, a new water plant would have to be constructed there.

The city of Watertown previously was involved in discussions, but city officials ultimately decided it would be too costly to supply water to the municipalities, Mr. Kellogg said.

From a cost standpoint, drawing water from the Sackets Harbor plant likely would make the most sense, Mr. Kellogg said. He said Sackets Harbor officials involved in meetings have supported the effort.

“The logical thing would be to use their plant and build off their existing water systems to come this way,” he said.

Last year, Sackets Harbor completed more than $2 million in improvements at its Ambrose Street water plant, increasing its daily output by 40 percent. The facility, which has an improved filtration system, now can generate up to 850,000 gallons a day, according to Sackets Harbor Mayor Vincent J. Battista III.

Mr. Battista, who attended the waterline committee’s December meeting, told the group the Sackets Harbor plant has the power and water capacity to accommodate a regional waterline in the towns of Adams, Ellisburg and Lorraine.

“With a permit modification, the plant could pump up to 1 million gallons a day,” he said. “We now only pump out 225,000 gallons a day and have all kinds of latitude to grow. The reason we (upgraded) the facility was the idea of expanding and reaching out to other communities, and I would love to see a regional water system where we all tie in together to support each other. We already run our line out to Westcott Beach State Park in the town of Henderson, and so they could continue to run the line from there. We have the facility and power to do this.”

The cost to pay a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for the project could be anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000, said Katie H. Malinowski, associate director of natural resources for the Tug Hill Commission. Ms. Malinowski, who is developing the request for proposals, said that municipalities have agreed to pay up to $1,000 each to fund the study. The remainder likely will have to be covered by grant funding.

“We’ve discussed seeking a local government efficiency grant through the Department of State, and there have also been some talks about DANC funding the study,” Ms. Malinowski said. “But regardless of where the funding comes from, they want to do the RFP sooner than later” to start the process.

In 1996, a regional waterline was built that carries St. Lawrence River water from Cape Vincent to Brownville along the old New York Central Railroad corridor. DANC helped spearhead the effort to build that $4.4 million distribution system, which supplies water to Chaumont, Dexter, Brownville, Glen Park and General Brown High School.

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