A roughly $2 million project to correct the village’s water supply, which is in violation of health standards, has been delayed until spring 2013.
In February 2007, the state Department of Health’s Herkimer district office determined the water being supplied from Skunk Hill and Furman Springs — the sources of the village’s drinking water — were under the direct influence of surface water and not sufficiently treated due to a change in regulations.
“We obviously were looking for funding, that’s why it had taken so long,” Mayor Thomas Roberts said. “Without funding we couldn’t move forward. We had to submit a new timetable of compliance (to the state Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency).”
After failing to meet schedules required by the department, a filtration system was determined to be the best way to correct the issue, said Jeffrey Hammond, spokesman for the state Department of Health. “The village is working toward installing a new filtration system, which upon completion will bring them into full compliance,” Hammond said.
A timetable was submitted earlier this year and the village anticipates beginning construction on the $2,175,000 project to install a cartridge filtration plant and new water tank in spring 2013, Roberts said.
The village previously was offered a package from USDA Rural Development that would allocate $775,000 and $1.4 million loans to complete the project, Roberts said; however the stimulus fell through.
Roberts said the village is in the final stages of being awarded an Environmental Facilities Corp. grant for $1.2 million to help alleviate some of the cost of taking out a loan. Also, a zero-percent-interest loan will be taken out to fund the rest.
The village’s water supply does not meet current health standards because of the EPA’s Surface Water Treatment Rule to prevent waterborne diseases caused by legionella and giardia lamblia viruses.
It requires that water systems filter and disinfect water from surface water sources to reduce the occurrence of unsafe levels of these microbes.
Giardia lamblia can cause nausea, cramps, diarrhea and associated headaches, while legionella bacteria in water are a health risk if the bacteria are aerosolized — such as in air conditioning or a shower — and then inhaled. Inhalation can result in Legionnaires disease.
To correct this problem, drinking water that comes in contact with surface water must be filtered and disinfected.
Attempts were made to correct the issue by drilling wells, Roberts said, but they weren’t successful. “We were unable to find any well services that would be able to produce the quality and amount of water (needed),” he said. “Our current source is spring sources. We have two springs that are good producing water.”
Now, as the village waits for the grants to be finalized, it is dealing with landowners to determine the best location for the project.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’re working on the right of way with property owners,” Roberts said.
Business owner and village resident Phyllis Fisher said she’s never had an issue with the water.
Fisher, owner of What Cheer Hall Bed and Breakfast at 7482 Main St., said she has no problems and all her guests drink the water and she uses it to cook.
There is an issue only because the state says there is one, Fisher said.
“I don’t want them messing with it,” she said. “The state could butt out for all I care.”