Village faces more raw water intake issues
WATKINS GLEN—The village board discussed another wrinkle in the raw water intake system at the meeting Monday, Dec. 5. Recently, the village learned the amount of disinfection byproducts found in the water system exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency standards in some portions of the line. Trustee Scott Gibson assured residents this was not an overly serious concern, or one that is exclusive to Watkins Glen. “Most treatment plants, at least in this area, were not up to snuff to treat disinfection byproducts,” he said.
Disinfection byproducts are created when chlorine reacts with the organic material found in the water. Mayor Swinnerton said that “[the byproducts are] not much of a problem in the village.” The problems, he explained, occur in the southern portion of the line, in the town of Dix and near Watkins Glen International. There, the water can sit for an extended duration because of non-use, allowing the chemical reaction which leads to the byproducts. Gibson said there are two basic approaches to remedying the problem, filtering the water after treatment, or using another chemical or process to treat the water besides chlorine.
Trustee Paul Clifford explained the village’s situation is especially difficult because they must use chlorine to treat for zebra mussels in addition to the standard water treatment. This unique quality prompted Superintendent of Utilities Mark Specchio to visit the Penn Yan intake facility, which also deals with zebra mussles, to determine if their filtration system would work for the village. Penn Yan uses a granular activated carbon filter to treat the byproducts. Gibson said the carbon method was the least expensive, and the village would be forced to “revamp the whole system,” if it was determined that another process was more appropriate. Specchio estimated a cost of $8,000 for the carbon needed to supply a carbon activated filter, while Gibson thought a chloride dioxide system could cost as must as $500,000.
The village, according to Swinnerton, is in the midst of buying back the building from Bill Benedict where it had planned to house the raw water intake plant. He said they were not not going to be in construction mode of building a new facility on the site until after the board had done some research and determined the best approach. Specchio said he was “very interested” in some form of carbon removal. The board will revisit the issue after more information is obtained.
In other business:
• The board has set up a meeting with the village’s insurance carrier following an injury that occurred at skate night in the community center. A child reportedly fell a few weeks ago, resulting in an insurance claim against the village. The meeting is to discuss safety and other cautionary measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of further injuries. “We are making sure that we are doing everything we can to protect the community and our interests and the safety of the kids,” said Swinnerton.
• The Watkins Glen Police Department has been conducting consolidation study meetings to discuss a possible merger with the Schuyler County Sheriffs Office. Gibson explained, “a lot of the cost savings associated with consolidation come from eliminating redundant administration.., we don’t have that.” The Department will attempt to calculate a cost per hour per officer to the village, including gas, equipment and other factors said Chief Tom Struble. The village can then consider those figures when weighing the costs and benefits of consolidation.
• Streets Department Superintendent Don Perry reported that the plan to extend the school zone onto Clarence and Perry Streets continues to move forward. However, the plan to prohibit parking on one side of South Monroe Street was stopped by a technicality. The local law which discussed at the prior meeting prohibits parking on the east side of the street itself, but not the right of way where the problem vehicles are parked. Trustee Wayne Weber explained that the village hopes to correct this issue, and the problem of cars parking in between the curb and the sidewalk, by completing a comprehensive local parking law.
• Swinnerton took a moment to emphasize the village’s procurement policy, which requires prior authorization for purchases of $500 or more. He said, “there have been several instances where we’ve got equipment sitting on village property that hasn’t been approved yet. That can’t happen.” He went on to say that for those purchases there should be a discussion, especially in these economic times. “It’s not that individuals aren’t scrutinizing purchases, but the policy is there for a reason,” Swinnerton concluded.