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Saratoga Springs moving ahead on increasing water capacity

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
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— Saratoga Springs is complying with orders from the state Health Department to develop additional water capacity to meet maximum demand in summer months, a city official said.

Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said a consulting hydrologist has drilled a test well in the Bog Meadow area and determined wells there could supply the city with an additional 1.5 million to 2 million gallons of water per day.

The city’s main water source is Loughberry Lake, but the city also operates a recently improved wellfield in the Geyser Crest area of the city. The Bog Meadow wellfield, which is on the city’s east side, would be a third water source.

City officials signed an administrative tribunal stipulation with the state Health Department in late August that notes “a sanitary survey of the city determined that additional source capacity is needed” to meet the city’s maximum water needs.

The city’s peak water use is about 7 million gallons per day during the busy summer tourism season. During other times of the year, the city uses less than half that amount.

The state stipulation gives the city dates in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by which certain measures must be taken or the city will be fined for violating state Sanitary Code. For example, the city had to have a well or wells designed, installed, and pump tested by Oct. 31 of this year.

By Dec. 31, the city must submit the pump test report and preliminary design plans for the additional water source to the Health Department for review and comment. Scirocco said Monday those requests have been addressed by the city.

“We are going to comply. Everything is in the works,” he said.

One of the key questions involving the additional water source is how the water will be treated and chlorinated. Scirocco said the water could be treated on site, where the wells are located; pumped into Loughberry Lake; or piped directly to the city’s water treatment plant.

Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said Scirocco has included $200,000 for the Bog Meadow project in the 2013 capital budget.

“I have questions and concerns about it,” Madigan said. Scirocco said those concerns will be answered.

He plans to have city engineer Tim Wales, along with a representative from Hanson Van Vleet LLC, an environmental and hydrology firm in Clifton Park, and consulting engineers, give the City Council a presentation on the Bog Meadow project at the council’s second meeting in January.

Madigan said she wants to have more details about the project before the city borrows to fund it.

One of the requirements in the Health Department’s stipulation, which The Daily Gazette obtained through a request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law, is that an emergency generator be installed at the city’s water filtration plant on Excelsior Avenue by the end of 2013.

Scirocco said the city has never had a backup generator at the water filtration plant. He said the city lost power for some hours after Tropical Storm Irene blew through the city in August 2011, but the city still had ample water because there is a 5 million gallon water storage tank located in the vicinity of Skidmore College that sends treated water into the system by gravity.

The cost of the Bog Meadow well system would be in the $500,000 range, Scirocco said. The stipulation order says the system must be built and connected to the city’s public water system by March 31, 2014.

The city is also performing a $1.6 million renovation and replacement of the four filters at the filtration plant at the urging of the state Health Department. That project was started in September and will take about a year to complete, Scirocco said.

The city raised its water rates 3 percent between 2011 and 2012, but Scirocco said residents still pay some of the lowest rates in the region. City residents pay $1.57 per 1,000 gallons of water, as compared to $3.55 in Clifton Park and $3.43 in Albany, he said.

The city also charges a new water capital improvement fee to help cover the cost of borrowing money for system upgrades. This annual fee is $5 per house and $20 to $100 for larger buildings and businesses.

 
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