Ticonderoga has taken a major step toward meeting a state order that its water system be upgraded.
A substantial groundwater source has been located at a second test well site on the east side of Streetroad, Route 9N, according to Supervisor Deb Malaney.
“The preliminary quality tests are excellent and the quantity far exceeds the daily needs for the entire town,” Malaney said. “The town requires 800 gallons per minute and this well exceeds 1,500 gpm.
“This is a huge success for the Ticonderoga water project,” she said. “The New York State Department of Health is also pleased.”
New York State has ordered upgrades and/or new water sources be in place by 2016.
Ticonderoga currently obtains its drinking water from Gooseneck Pond and Lake George. Because the infrastructure for those sources is no longer in compliance with state and federal requirements, and the state Department of Health is requiring the town to either upgrade these facilities or look for a new source of water.
“It’s an enormous relief to have this third source to rely on,” Malaney said. “The groundwater will insure a safe, dependable, affordable water supply if or when the fragile Gooseneck or Lake George systems fail. We aren’t confident our old systems will withstand another hurricane Irene or Sandy. The vulnerability of the systems and declining water quality is exactly why New York State mandated us to upgrade or replace.”
The cost of upgrading the Gooseneck and Lake George systems to meet state requirements is estimated to be more than $30 million.
The cost of a groundwater system utilizing portions of the Gooseneck and Lake George system is estimated to be $14 million.
“Groundwater requires less chemical treatment, less operation and maintenance costs, and is, overall, far less expensive than the old technology of surface water filtration plants,” Malaney said. “We had every Gooseneck option studied and found at today’s costs the $30-plus million project was unaffordable and still could not supply the entire town with water. We also studied Lake George filtration plant as the primary and found it cost and location prohibitive.”
The estimated cost for the current project is $14 million and includes improvements to Gooseneck and Lake George to keep them operational.
“The project is down to approximately $11 million,” Malaney said, “ because of the town’s diligence in applying for funding and grants. More funding opportunities are coming in 2014, which will offset even more costs, payable over 30 years.”
Failure to meet the 2016 deadline could result in fines of up to $37,000 a day for the town.
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 an 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.
The plan to use groundwater proved unpopular with residents in the Chilson area, though. They want to retain water from Gooseneck Pond. Others want to use water from Lake George.
“Town residents have clearly said they want to keep Gooseneck and Lake George as sources,” Malaney said. “As a result, the proposed project includes elements that will allow the town to maintain its existing sources as well as incorporate the new source (groundwater) into the distribution system. This addition of groundwater will enable the town to control costs and give the town the ability to meet future water demands for the town’s water system.”
Despite the fact that Ticonderoga is surrounded by water, the town has a long history of insufficient water supply. Since the 1940s, the village and town have faced compliance issues with water quality standards and an aging infrastructure with portions dating back to the 1800s.
Information on the project is available on the town website at www.townofticonderoga.com