In the News  Archive

State rolls out $200 million fund to boost water, sewer infrastructure

Denton Publications
May 12, 2015

By Pete DeMola

ELIZABETHTOWN — Help is on the way for rural communities who need to shore up ailing water quality infrastructure projects.

A new clean water revolving loan fund will cover $200 million in funding gaps across the state over three years.

On Monday, Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway briefed the Essex County Board of Supervisors on the funds and asked the supers to help identify potential projects in their communities.

Even with zero-interest long-term loans, small communities need additional help to avoid placing a massive debt burden on local taxpayers, he said.

This program was designed to provide that help.

Funds for each project will be capped at $5 million and the improvements must be to an existing structure.

“There’s going to be a feeding frenzy, there always is,” said Janeway. “But it’s the smaller upstate communities that are going to be better positioned for this.”

Fifty million has been allocated for this fiscal year; $75 million each thereafter, with the loans to be administered by the Environmental Facilities Corporation.

Janeway said wastewater projects in Saranac Lake, Harrietstown, Jay, Ticonderoga and Willsboro have already been determined to be eligible, while Ticonderoga, Au Sable Forks, Newcomb, Tupper Lake, Fine and Tupper are all eligible for drinking water funds.

SUPERS SOUND OFF

St. Armand is the midst of a $4.5 million wastewater treatment project, the largest ever tackled by the town.

Supervisor Charles Whitson said users are responsible for $2.4 million as part of the payback.

Whitson said his biggest concern is that the project doesn’t go far enough due to a lack of funds, leaving out five streets, some with malfunctioning septic tanks.

The super would like to see those streets hooked up.

Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said his town is still struggling with the water treatment plant they inherited from Keeseville upon its dissolution It’s been hit with major violations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Conservation, said Morrow.

“We’re going to be looking for some help,” he said.

Crown Point Supervisor Charles Harrington said his town is “under the gun” with sewer concerns following a series of citations, while the water main running underneath Main Street has seen over 30 breaks in recent years.

Harrington said a big picture solution was needed, noting the school district needed the security of both an adequate water delivery and sewer system in order to remain sustainable.

 “Crown Point will not be able to grow until these issues are taken care of,” he said.

Harrington cited the lack of redundancies as a contributing factor to the problems, as did Willsboro Supervisor Shaun Gillilland, who said that issue is main reason the town’s wastewater plant saw a total collapse in 2013.

The Adirondack Council will work with the supers and Deputy County Manager Mike Mascarenas to identity projects and apply for the funds.

Outgoing Essex County Chairman Randy Douglas, who was honored by the agency for his “tireless efforts” on behalf of the people and natural resources of Jay, Essex County and the Adirondack Park, urged the group to work with Elizabethtown Supervisor Noel Merrihew to make progress on Elizabethtown’s delayed wastewater treatment system.

 “The only way the county seat is going to grow is if we work on a sewer system,” said Douglas.

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