In the News  Archive

Adirondack Council touts new Clean Water Fund

Press Republican
May 12, 2015

By Lohr McKinstry

ELIZABETHTOWN — Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway got an earful Monday when he nudged Essex County lawmakers to take advantage of the state’s new Clean Water Fund.

Janeway told members of the County Board of Supervisors who want to upgrade their drinking-water and sewage-treatment systems that the new state fund will hand out $300 million in grants over three years.

The State Environmental Facilities Corporation will accept applications and distribute the money, and Janeway said his environmental group lobbied Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to create the fund to help small communities deal with the expense of updating their water and sewer infrastructure.

“The Adirondack Park hosts about 10 million visitors a year, and this is vital to the state’s tourism economy,” Janeway said.

“Many of the park’s 130 small, rural communities cannot afford the multimillion-dollar repairs and upgrades needed to keep their drinking water pure and their lakes and rivers clean.

“Even with zero-interest, long-term loans, our small communities need additional help to avoid placing a massive debt burden on local taxpayers. This (clean water) program was designed to provide that help.”

STREETS LEFT OUT

Lawmakers immediately began telling Janeway about their water and sewer woes.

“We are right now in the middle of a capital project in Bloomingdale,” Supervisor Charles Whitson Jr. (R-St. Armand) said. “The users in that community are responsible for $2.4 million as part of our payback.” The $4.5 million project is replacing the failing wastewater treatment system in the town’s Bloomingdale hamlet, and Whitson said it doesn’t go far enough.

“There were items we could not expand upon because of lack of funding. We have five streets that lie within our sewer district that are not on the sewer plan. Every summer, two of those streets, their septic tanks do not function properly.

“I’d love to get those five streets that lie within the sewer district hooked up.”

Janeway said he’d try to help and would talk with Whitson about it.

MAJOR VIOLATIONS

Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) said his town took over the Keeseville water system when the village dissolved at the end of 2014.

“We have major violations from (State) Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation and (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency. We’re going to be looking for help.

“We inherited this.”

Supervisor Charles Harrington (R-Crown Point) said his town has both water and sewer infrastructure problems.

“Crown Point is under the gun for sewer concerns,” he said. “Crown Point has an antiquated sewer plant. We really need to look at the whole picture.”

He said there have been 30 water-main breaks on Main Street in Crown Point recently because that system has deteriorated as well.

STALLED PROJECT

Willsboro’s wastewater system is also in bad shape, Supervisor Shaun Gillilland (R-Willsboro) said.

“We had a total collapse of the entire system in 2013,” he said. “When the system was put in originally, there were no redundancies in the system.”

He said the municipal bonds that financed the system 20 years ago are not even paid off yet.

Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said Janeway and County Community Development Director Michael Mascarenas will meet to try to leverage more funding for Essex County.

He asked Janeway to work with Supervisor Noel Merrihew III (R-Elizabethtown) to get a public wastewater-treatment system for Elizabethtown. The town’s plan for that project has stalled.

“The only way Elizabethtown is going to grow is if we end up with a sewer system,” Douglas said.

After the meeting, Janeway said rebuilding water and sewer infrastructure is one topic on which the Adirondack Council and local governments can agree.

“We’ll help them with this, then we can fight over snowmobile trails later,” Janeway said.

 

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