Ticonderoga’s water project, which seemed committed to a new groundwater source a month ago, will be reviewed and may be changed. New Supervisor Bill Grinnell, who made the water project a central part of his campaign for office, asked the town board to reconsider the project in his first meeting.
Ticonderoga’s water project, which seemed committed to a new groundwater source a month ago, will be reviewed and may be changed.
New Supervisor Bill Grinnell, who made the water project a central part of his campaign for office, asked the town board to reconsider the project in his first meeting.
Grinnell is joined on the five-member town board by two other newcomers, trustees Chattie Van Wert and Fred Hunsdon. They join incumbents Wayne Taylor and Dave Iuliano.
“The water project was certainly a big part of my campaign,” Grinnell said. “A lot of people voted for me because they had concerns about the project. I have to follow up on that. I want a second opinion.”
The town water project, as it is now, was designed by AES Engineers. Grinnell wants another firm, Jarrett Engineers of Glens Falls, to take a look and make recommendations. The town board agreed to seek a proposal from Jarrett during its organizational meeting.
The key issue in the water project debate is whether the town should continue to use its present surface water sources — Gooseneck Pond and Lake George — or convert to groundwater wells.
New York State has ordered upgrades and/or new water sources be in place by 2016.
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.
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.
The previous town administration said the cost of a groundwater system would be $13.8 million, while the cost of upgrading the Gooseneck and Lake George systems would be $32 million.
Grinnell does believe those figures.
“We need to take another look at this project,” the new supervisor said. “If a doctor said you needed a heart transplant, you’d get a second opinion. Gooseneck and Lake George are the heart of our water system.”
A groundwater source, a well, has been identified on Street Road. In fact, the town has purchased the land with plans to develop the site.
Since that part of the proposed project is already in place, Grinnell said the Street Road well could be used as secondary or emergency water source.
Grinnell agrees Ti needs a water project, but it may not need new sources of water.
“Our biggest problem is our delivery system,” he said. “That needs to be upgraded, no question. But do we need groundwater when we have existing sources that are capable of meeting our demands?
“Everyone has been quick to point out the problems with surface water,” he said. “There are problems with groundwater, too. We need to fairly discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both sources before we make a decision.”
There is a misconception in town, Grinnell said, that the state has ordered Ticonderoga to use groundwater. It has not, he said. The state has ordered an upgrade to the water system, he said.
Failure to meet the 2016 state deadline could result in fines of up to $37,000 a day for the town.
Grinnell said the project is ongoing. While the source debate may continue, work on the water delivery system will progress, he said.
“It (the water project) is not on hold,” he said. “We are proceeding with work, most of it dealing with delivery system issues.”
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