Ticonderoga trustee Wayne Taylor, town water and waste water superinetndent Tracy Smith and Ti deputy water and waste water superintenent Derrick Fleury discuss a test well for Ticondeorga’s planned water system upgrade. The first test well is located on Hall Road in Chilson.
Wayne Taylor doesn’t like to gamble, but the Ticonderoga councilman and the entire town are taking a chance.
The town has started its first test well, at a cost of $25,000, trying to find a water source as part of a $13.8 million water system improvement project.
“I’m optimistic,” Taylor of the test well’s success, “but I’m also scared to death.”
Facing a federal mandate to either cover its existing water sources or use groundwater, the town of Ticonderoga has started a comprehensive water system upgrade. Town officials hope to replace the existing water system, which draws water from Lake George and Gooseneck Pond, with groundwater drawn from a series of wells.
The first step is to find adequate groundwater for the project. The initial test well is located off Hall Road in Chilson.
“We’re looking for a high-yield source,” said Tracy Smith, Ticonderoga’s water and waste water superintendent. “We need at least 100 gallons a minute, 145,000 gallons a day, hopefully more.”
Plans call for at least two wells, one in the Chilson area to service the Chilson and Eagle Lake area and another in the Street Road area. All wells will service Ti’s hamlet area.
The Chilson test well is the first. It reached 480 feet deep Jan. 11 without success, but Porter Moore is confident adequate water will be found at the site. Moore is a technician with Hydro-Soure, the New Hampshire-based hydrogeology company Ticonderoga hired to locate ground water.
The well is being drilled by Well Drilling Solutions of Chestertown.
“The hydrogeologist has identified a fissure in the bedrock here,” Smith said. “They’re confident we’ll find water.”
The state Department of Health has ordered Ticonderoga to either replace Gooseneck or cover it. Replacement is the cheaper alternative, Taylor and Smith explained.
“I have people tell me we should just ignore the mandate,” Taylor said. “We can’t do that. First, it’s a violation of law. Second, we would face fines of $37,000 a day.”
Ticonderoga must file an engineering plan for the project by June 14, said Derrick Fleury, Ticonderoga’s deputy water and waste water superintendent. But before an engineering plan can be completed, the town must have water sources.
“The key is finding a viable water source,” Fleury said. “That’s the key to the entire project. Right now there are a lot of unknowns.”
“A lot depends on these test wells,” Smith said.
The entire project should be completed by July 2015, Smith said.
Taylor noted many Ti residents are happy with the water they receive from Gooseneck Pond and Lake George. But while that may be the case, the groundwater project will save the town money, he said.
Covering the reservoir carries an estimated cost of $31 million. The state has also ordered repairs to the Lake George water system that could cost another $12-24 million. The cost of a new water system is $13.8 million.
“The most affordable and ecomonic way to go is to use groundwater,” Taylor said.
“It’ll be much more cost effective,” Smith said of groundwater. “We won’t need as much filitration; there will be no need for treatment. We’ll save a lot of money.”
Taylor noted Schroon Lake, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Malone have all converted water systems to groundwater.
Ticonderoga has been declared a hardship case by the state, which makes it eligible for a no-interest loan to cover the project. That’s good news, but local officials are hoping for grant money.
In 2009 the state Department of Health ordered Ti to replace or cover the Gooseneck reservoir, which was created in 1931. The town developed a plan to replace the reservoir with tanks, but an inspection discovered problems with the Gooseneck dam and with transmission lines.
Gooseneck was designed to serve the entire town, but over time demand exceeded Gooseneck’s capacity. In 1965 a Lake George water supply was developed for emergency use. Eventually, Lake George water became necessary to meet daily demand.
During a recent inspection the state also found problems at the Baldwin Road filtration plant that handles Lake George water.
At the urging of state officials, Ticonderoga then began considering an upgrade of the entire water system, utilizing groundwater sources. Preliminary engineering studies have identified five possible aquifers in Ticonderoga that could be water sources.
The Ticonderoga water system serves about 3,700 people.
Information on the project is available on the town website at www.townofticonderoga.com