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Officials seek more project funding

WATKINS GLEN, MONTOUR FALLS--The proposed regional wastewater treatment plant between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls is seeking additional funding to meet target sewer rate goals. The Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) held an elected officials meeting to bring them up to speed on Project Seneca in late August. Montour Falls Mayor John King gave a presentation updating officials on the project, saying he is hopeful the project will be awarded an additional $3 million to $4 million in grant funding than what was initially asked for in order to lower projected rates.
The current projected user rates for the regional plant are estimated to be $660 annually ($55 monthly) per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). The target with grant funds is a $575 annual fee ($48 monthly). The current existing user charge in Watkins Glen is $389 annually ($33 monthly), while the rate in Montour Falls is $260 ($22 monthly).
The project would need to acquire $3.2 million or more to achieve the per EDU target for both villages. However, King's presentation noted recent announcements related to clean water grant funding, the shovel-ready status of the project and support from Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) officials suggest it is feasible to acquire this funding.
King said the $24.7 million project is on schedule, adding the detailed design process for the plant is currently in progress. He estimated construction at the historic UDS site along the canal to begin in January, 2017, and will wrap up by the end of 2018.
King said the permitting process will start this month, expecting the permits to be issued by the end of the year. Site preparation will begin in the coming spring with soil compression work. King mentioned the site preparation was originally supposed to begin this winter, but he said a soil study revealed it would not take as long to compress as previously thought, so it could be put off until the spring. He added they are hoping to use the soil from the dredging to be done along the canal in order to keep costs down.
King noted keeping the total project cost below $25 million allows the project to qualify for hardship funding, which involves an $18 million zero-interest loan. The total $24.7 million cost includes the decommissioning of both aging wastewater treatment plants in Watkins Glen and Montour Falls, as well as the construction of new pump stations and force mains. The annual operations and maintenance cost for the plant is estimated to be $674,300.
King added the joint project committee (JPC) is currently in place, with him serving as its current chairman. The JPC consists of two voting members from Montour Falls and two from Watkins Glen, with one non-voting tie breaker from Dix or Reading.

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