SOUTH GLENS FALLS — The village may dig another well to provide more water in the summer.
It’s crunch time: The village received a letter from the Department of Health ordering it to solve the capacity problem by May 31.
If not, the department could take formal action against the village by referring the matter to an Administrative Tribunal Action. The letter was not clear on what type of action could occur, but the Department of Health said the village would be assigned a “timetable of compliance,” and fines would be issued.
It might be tough to dig a well in the next month to meet the deadline, but Mayor Harry Gutheil isn’t worried.
“I think they issue those letters frequently,” he said. “You’ve got to take it serious, but they’ll work with us, I’m sure.”
He added that the village is working quickly on the well issue.
“We’re looking at that now,” he said. “The engineers are getting estimates as we speak.”
It could cost $25,000 to $125,000, he said.
As for whether the village can afford that cost, he said it’s a matter of necessity.
“If we need a well, we’ll have a well,” he said.
The state wants to make sure the village has enough water to get through the summer. Although the village routinely buys water from the town of Moreau during hot, dry days, the state said the contract is not adequate.
The contract says the town will only sell water to the village in an emergency. The state wants a revised contract, specifying that the town will also provide water during “peak demand,” which is when the village usually buys water from the town.
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The Town Board might not agree to that. Last summer, Town Board members said the village should implement water restrictions if it needs to buy water. Gutheil sparred with the Town Board, saying it’s not fair to village residents to have to restrict water usage while they pay off a loan to build a water plant.
The water plant cost $2.1 million, with a loan of $1.5 million.
The village had plenty of water until the plant was built, but the plant did not hook up a well that had sulfur water. Now the village buys water for a few days at a time every summer. In early summer last year, the village spent $936 buying 288,000 gallons of water for a handful of days.
In addition to capacity, the Department of Health is unhappy about the amount of salt in the village water, although that was not the focus of the May 31 deadline letter.
Water has been too salty for more than a year, after creeping up for many years. The cause is road salt: the Public Works salt shed is right in front of the underground springs that supply the village’s water.
Sodium in the water was tested at 101 mg/L, well above the 20 mg/L recommended for those on limited sodium diets.
Spring water farther from the salt shed has been tested and there’s no salt, Gutheil said.
If the village adds a well for capacity, it would be dug in that area.
The village has also covered a dry well that was near the salt shed, in an effort to reduce the amount of salt getting into the water, he said.
He applied again for a state grant to move the salt shed, and he’s again confident that the village will get the grant. He was surprised when the village was rejected last year.
He wants to demolish the existing shed and build a new, small shed on village-owned land near the police station.
The state said they were satisfied that the village is minimizing salt spillage while redesigning the salt shed. Workers are sweeping the area after every load of salt is delivered or picked up.