Some members of the Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees are concerned that flood waters may have entered a pair of wells near the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
During Monday night's regular board meeting, Trustee Jeff Branch wondered if the state Department of Health could take action against the village if it's found that flooding negatively impacted the groundwater wells.
Village Manager John Sweeney says the wells are capped, but there is some standing water behind the sewer plant following more than a week of flooding along the Saranac River.
Branch notes that both wells are part of the village's multi-million dollar water project. He's worried that because of the flooding, the state will come in and tell the village it can't use the wells as a source of drinking water.
"I'm concerned that when we expend all this money, the health department may come by and say, 'Wait, you can't draw water from that' or we're going to be under order on consents to boil because the well site is flooded," he said. "Is there any assurance that that's not going to happen or can we get a statement from the DOH that that will not be a concern in the future?"
Branch's question was directed at Sweeney, who said he can't predict what the health department will do.
"You're asking for an assurance and I'm sure that I won't get one - because the rules potentially change no matter how we look at it," Sweeney said. "But the questions are being asked to the DOH in reference to this so I'm hoping to get some kind of response in the near future."
According to Trustee John McEneany, the village already looked into concerns about placing wells for drinking water near a sewage plant.
"When we first went down this road - to locate a well on the sewer treatment plant - obviously the first question is, 'How are the two going to mix?'" he said.
"At that point there was a study done, and that question was asked by somebody, and the engineers said that there was no way that even if the clarifiers failed and dumped the effluent on the sewer treatment plant property that it would ever make the aquifer where we were drawing the water out."
Branch says he just worried that the state could impose sanctions on the village that would increase the cost of an already expensive project.
"We all know we have the cleanest drinking water in the world right now and we're being forced to spend this money and I'm afraid that once we get it in, we could get a letter from the DOH saying, 'Wait a minute, flood zone, boil your water, drill another well,'" he said.
At the moment, Sweeney says the project's engineers - Barton & Loguidice - are in contact with officials at the health department regarding the flooding issues at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.