BRASHER FALLS - A representative from the state Department of Health is recommending that the towns of Brasher and Stockholm complete an environmental review as soon as possible as they continue to try and form a municipal water district that would serve the hamlets of Brasher Falls and Winthrop.
Brasher Town Supervisor M. James Dawson told town board members that he had received a letter from Public Health Engineer Ronald E. Sheppard from the state Department of Health regarding a preliminary engineering study that had been conducted by Burley-Guminiak and Associates, Canton, now known as Capital Consultants Architecture and Engineering.
We had a preliminary study done. We cooperated with the town of Stockholm to have it done, Mr. Dawson said. Now weve reached a point where we need to an environmental study for this. (Mr. Sheppard) recommended an environmental review as soon as possible.
He noted that one of his concerns with beginning a water project was the potential for petroleum distillates in the soil.
We have a lengthy history of petroleum spills in the hamlet. Im thinking about the history in Helena. When they were digging a water line, they hit some contaminated soils from oil fuel tanks that had been in the ground since yesteryear. Wed like to avoid those in Brasher as much as possible, Mr. Dawson said.
If any petroleum distillates are found, those will need to be cleaned up at the owners expense, he said.
Those people that own that property are responsible, he told board members.
Mr. Dawson said he was also concerned about the location of gas lines to ensure they werent impacted when water lines were installed.
We have to be careful where we put water, he said.
Board member John M. Keenan, who serves as the towns municipal water representative, recommended they go ahead with the environmental review, which will cost each township approximately $1,500. Board members unanimously approved the motion.
We should get this going. The sooner the better, he said.
The Stockholm Town Board also voted unanimously to spend $1,500 for the study.
Once that is complete, they will need to hold a public hearing in which residents could ask questions and get information about the proposed project. Then they would need to form a district.
A survey conducted in 2011 indicated 45 percent of 189 residents who responded said they would not support the formation of a public water district. Another 38 percent said they would support it, while 17 percent said they werent sure.
At the same time, however, a Department of Health sampling of private wells in the hamlets of Brasher Falls and Winthrop area found that 11 of the 33 that were tested contained total coliform bacteria. Thirteen samples were collected from Winthrop and 20 from Brasher Falls.
Approximately two-thirds of residents also had high levels of hardness and/or iron, approximately one-quarter have sulfur, and several indicated they had drilled within the last 10 years or planned to drill a new well because of declining or insufficient yield from their well.
A number of homeowners also indicated that their water supply was shared with at least one other home.
In order to form a district, Mr. Dawson said they would need 51 percent of the assessed value in favor of the project.
I would be hesitant if 51 percent were in favor and 49 were against. Id be a little reluctant to move forward, he said.
On the other hand, there are some good things that comes out of this, he said.
Mr. Dawson said homes with public water as opposed to wells would be more attractive for mortgage financing from a bank, and would also have better fire protection with hydrants on the street as the source of water.
Also, he said, If the power goes out, you will have water. Youll have just as much water as you had before, even with no power in your house.
And, Mr. Dawson added, You know that your water is always drinkable. You know that its not contaminated with anything that shouldnt be in your well.
Stockholm Town Councilman Robert McCuin told his fellow board members that professional engineer Tim Burley believes Stockholm and Brasher are likely three to four years away from receive any funding for a municipal water project. The professionals are recommending we move forward with the SEQR (state environmental quality review) application so we would be shovel ready if funding ever comes, he said.
It would be my recommendation we do this and keep it moving. There are no guarantees it will ever happen, Mr. McCuin said.
The initial application scored an 80, and funding was only given to projects scoring 145 or higher. Mr. McCuin said the professionals had indicated the glycol issues with the water at St. Lawrence Central had jumped the score for the Brasher-Winthrop application to 120.