Village looks at $16M for water upgrades
WATKINS GLEN--In order to bring the water system up to code, the engineering firm hired by the village of Watkins Glen recommended up to $16 million in infrastructure upgrades to the board of trustees at the Tuesday, Nov. 19 board meeting.
The study was commissioned by the village after consistent warnings from the state Department of Health regarding monitoring, water turbidity, chlorination, the presence of zebra mussels and additional issues regarding the water system.
"Obviously we have some violations with flow and pressure issues and an aging distribution system," said Bill Davis, team leader for MRB Group. "You are not alone, we are doing projects for six or seven other communities... so there are so many communities in your same position and there is funding available."
The study, which was completed using funding from a Community Block Development Grant, found that the village has already made progress on a number of issues brought up by regulators but that alternative forms of zebra mussel control and improvements to chlorine room ventilation discharge still need to be done. In order to get these issues under control, the study recommends 20,000 feet of new intake piping, a new pump station, a new chemical room, filters, storage tank and more.
"I know this is a lot to throw at you guys, it is an expensive project, but it is in your best interest to start (exploring funding possibilities now) because the needs that you have aren't going away and costs aren't going to get cheaper," Davis said.
He added that by seeking funding immediately, either through federal or state grants combined in some fashion with zero interest loans, the village can know where they stand financially. Doing so will determine whether the village tackles the recommendations all at once or piecemeal. However, Davis warned that some zero percent interest loans and grants may require that the project be done in its entirety in one shot.
"They want projects where the town or village is committed," Davis said.
According to the presentation, the new raw intake and pump station would cost roughly $2.6 million while replacing the piping in the distribution network would cost roughly $4.1 million. Other costs including the new storage tank, engineering and legal costs, a construction contingency and other upgrades make up the rest of the price tag.
"We're in the realm of $16 million, it might be $15 million... It's possible, it's not cheap, but it's possible (to fund the recommendations)," Davis said.
The board did not vote on the recommendations and instead Davis said that trustees should take the report and familiarize themselves with it along with the funding options available for the project.
"We want your feedback on the report so we can finalize that. Get a complete determination and figure out what you are comfortable with in terms of funding," Davis said.
Village officials indicated during the meeting that while they were comfortable with the recommendations, doing everything at once may not be financially viable.
"You could phase the project and push those user costs down the road and in some cases you may want to do that. Our typical recommendation in this position is to at least get everything in for funding and see how it goes... that way you can say we can afford to do this now but can't afford to do that," Davis said.
Shawn Bray of MRB Group broke down the firm's $16 million in recommended improvements to the Watkins Glen water system at the Tuesday, Nov. 19 board meeting.