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The Times
  • Newport expects to seek bids soon on water project

  • The village of Newport plans to seek bids on a $2.1 million water project as soon as it closes on a pair of land purchases.

    The project to bring the village's water system into compliance with state health department regulations was the subject of a public information meeting Wednesday evening at the Newport firehouse.

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  • The village of Newport plans to seek bids on a $2.1 million water project as soon as it closes on a pair of land purchases.
    The project to bring the village's water system into compliance with state health department regulations was the subject of a public information meeting Wednesday evening at the Newport firehouse.
    Village Attorney Audrey Dunning said the landowners have agreed to sell property to the village and the formal work is 99 percent complete on one purchase and should be completed within a few weeks on the other. Some language needed to be ironed out, she said.
    Mayor Thomas Roberts said the village's 100-year-old water system, which carries water from Skunk Hill and Furman Springs, was designed to flow by gravity into the reservoir on Harris Avenue. In early 2007, the New York State Department of Health's Herkimer District Office informed the village the water from the springs was under the direct influence of surface water and that the village did not provide adequate treatment to ensure potentially harmful organisms are removed or inactivated.
    Jack Dodson, of Dodson and Associates Engineering, was on hand to explain the details of the project and answer questions.
    He said the regulations regarding surface water were put in place in 1986, when the Surface Water Treatment Act was passed.
    “These are not regulations I came up with,” he said. “They started at the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and came down to each state. They're there to protect you.”
    The biggest concern is that having the village's drinking water in direct contact with surface water could allow bacteria from animal fecal matter to get into the water supply and cause illness, such as Giardia infection. While the water is chlorinated, he said, currently the chlorination stations are too close to some of the water customers so there is not enough contact time with the chlorine before the water goes to the public.
    He said in addition to the surface water issue, the current system does not supply enough pressure for fire protection. In designing a new system, he said, factors taken into account include the average daily flow and the maximum flow of water during peak use times, such as early morning and early evening. The new tank, to be installed on Hillside Meadows Drive, would hold some 294,000 gallons The water mains should be at least eight inches, but the ones being used now are four to six inches.
    In addition to installing a new water storage tank, the project calls for the installation of a new cartridge filtration and chlorination system. An ultraviolet disinfecting system would kill any remaining bacteria in the water.
    The project will be funded with a $1.2 million grant from the Environmental Facilities Corporation and a $975,000 loan, which will be paid back over 30 years at no interest.
    Page 2 of 3 - The village will advertise for bids on four separate contracts for the project: Pipes and water mains, the filtration building, electrical work and the water storage tank. There will be radio communications between the sites and the water plant operator would receive alarm notices in certain instances, such as if the tank level drops by a certain amount.
    The plans include provisions for a generator at the filtration building and replacing piping along state Route 28, but these are not in the base bid specifications, according to Dodson. The village board may decide to add them if enough money is available.
    After learning of the compliance issue, the village initially tried to correct the problem by drilling wells, but was unable to find wells capable of producing the quality and amount of water needed. The village board decided to continue to use the springs that have served as the village's water source for more than 100 years and to install a filtration system. Once that decision was made, said Dodson, the health department set a timetable for the completion of the project.
    “By November of this year, it is scheduled to be online,” he said.
    Resident Howard Stave questioned the need for the project.
    “I've drank the spring water for over 50 years and to my knowledge there's never been an illness from it the way it is,” he said.
    Dodson said the mandate comes from the EPA and the state Health Department.
    Erin Roberts asked about the possibility of replacing pipe along Route 28.
    Dodson said this would be up to the village board if there were excess funds. He said the bond anticipation note would allow the village up to $2.4 million in funds for the project in case there are unanticipated expenses.
    Heidi Worden asked if the size of the storage tank would allow for future growth in the village.
    Dodson said 294,000 gallons is a standard size and would allow for fire protection along with growth.
    “You have to be careful not to have too large a tank because if there's too much water, it won't turn over often enough and the quality of the water goes down,” he explained. Also, there could be problems with freezing if there is not a good flow of water.|
    John Murphy asked about the location chosen for the new water storage tank, saying he had bought land because of the view and did not look forward to looking at a water tank.
    Dodson said there have been meetings held during the past two years and there was a great deal of discussion about the site for the tank. Several sites were considered and the decision to choose the site on Hillside Meadows Drive was based on several factors, including location and cost. The site would allow the village to have a supply of water available even if there is a break in the main closer to the water sources.
    Page 3 of 3 - Questions were also raised about the time involved in the acquisition of property including why the village had not sought to take the land through eminent domain proceedings.
    Dunning said the cost and time involved in this would be prohibitive.
    Dodson added the village would have to pay all costs and legal fees if it pursued land through that avenue because funding sources for the project would not pay the costs involved in an eminent domain proceeding.
    “The village took the extra time and has done it in a reasonable way,” he said.
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