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Stillwater officials say utility hookup to cost $10M

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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— This small Hudson River village faces about $10 million in infrastructure costs to connect to Saratoga County sewer and water, village officials said.

A new report puts the cost of connecting to the county sewer system at between $3 million and $4.6 million, depending on the route used.

Stillwater could also face a $6 million bill to connect to the county Water Authority system at Luther Forest, replacing groundwater wells near the Hudson River that have low levels of PCB contamination.

Together, they are a daunting financial challenge for a village of 1,644 residents, Mayor Ernest Martin said.

“We’re really hoping we can get money under the stimulus bill,” Martin said. “The engineering costs alone are putting us in the red.”

The village is under a state Department of Environmental Conservation order to address inadequacies at its sewage treatment plant — and village officials would prefer connecting to the county system rather than upgrading their plant.

Stillwater is outside the county sewer district, though, about two miles north of where county sewer service now ends.

Village engineers The Chazen Companies have evaluated three options.

They are:

Going down routes 4 and 32 to Riverside, at a cost of between $3.9 million and $4.6 million, depending on the need for additional pumping.

Connecting to an existing sewer line and pumping station built 20 years ago by developer John Gurba. The infrastructure is too small to meet the village’s needs, so $3 million in upgrades would be required.

Running a new line along Kellogg and Brickyard roads, at a cost of $3 million to $3.6 million, depending on whether additional pumping is included.

Village Trustee John Basile, the sewer commissioner, said the Brickyard Road option looks like the best to him.

“It opens this whole area [along Brickyard] to development, which is a real advantage to the whole community,” he said.

The village hopes to work with the town of Stillwater to share the cost, Basile said.

The Chazen report has been submitted to the county sewer district for review.

“I think it’s feasible. It’s just a question of where the financing comes from,” said county sewer commissioner Richard Doyle, who chairs the sewer district’s engineering committee.

Because the village is outside the district, residents would have to pay 11⁄2 times the county sewer rate — a bone of contention for Martin.

“To me, it’s ridiculous. We’re all residents of Saratoga County,” he said.

District officials say the higher rate is justified because users outside the district haven’t contributed to earlier infrastructure costs, as district residents have.

Meanwhile, plans to obtain county water came up after low levels of PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls — were found last year in village well water.

Basile said the contaminants migrated from the river, where PCBs from 30 years of General Electric plant discharges are to be cleaned up in a river dredging project starting this year.

The village has joined with other communities seeking to stop the dredging until they are provided with a safe drinking water source because of concerns that the dredging could stir up PCBs.

PCB levels between 125 and 169 parts per trillion have been found in the village’s wells, which are shallow and as little as 150 feet from the Hudson River. State and federal standards say drinking water is safe at any level below 500 parts per trillion, but that’s not satisfactory to village officials.

A carbon filter to remove PCBs is currently being installed at the village water plant under federal supervision, but Martin said that won’t be effective enough.

“My position is even one PCB in a drop of water is too much,” Martin said.

The Chazen Co. has estimated that running a seven-mile water line from the county system at Luther Forest over Lake Avenue to the village would cost about $6 million. Basile said the next step would be to have Chazen do a detailed design.

Both projects have been submitted to state officials for possible funding through the federal economic stimulus bill or through the state’s Environmental Facilities Corp.

They could be done quickly if the money were available, officials said.

“Both these projects can move really fast,” Basile said.

 
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