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St. Lawrence Central installs chlorinator system to fix well water issues

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. says he’s confident that chlorinator systems that were installed for the wells at the elementary and middle/high school buildings during the Christmas break will solve the district’s recent water issues.

“We have chlorinators installed. Systems at both buildings have been installed. We’re at the stage now where we are chlorinating our water. Right now we’re monitoring the levels. We’re hoping that we get favorable results from the samples so that in the very near future we’ll be able to turn the water back on. We’re very confident,” he said Monday.

Before they can turn the water back on, they must receive approval from the state Department of Health following testing of the well water at both locations. Mr. Vigliotti said that, although the chlorinator systems were installed during the break, certain Department of Health offices, including the sampling offices, were closed during the holidays.

“That put the kibosh on us being able to have it all squared away by today,” he said.

Right now, Mr. Vigliotti said, they’re continuing to monitor the water.

“This is just a process of monitoring now the level of chlorine in the water because we know it’s going to kill everything. That’s a given. We just have to ensure that we have levels that are appropriate,” he said.

Well water issues cropped up in November at both the elementary and middle/high school. The school has been working with the state Department of Health to resolve the issues.

A routine coliform bacteria sample collected Nov. 5 at the elementary school tested positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli. Four other samples were collected on Nov. 7, and those were also positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli.

Further samples collected on Nov. 12 showed the presence of total coliform in three samples, while a fourth sample was negative.

Department of Health officials determined that the installation of a water softening system in late October was completed without sufficiently shock disinfecting the system afterward.

Because of the numerous samples that confirmed the presence of total coliform bacteria in the water system, a boil water advisory was issued for the elementary school on Nov. 8 and remains in effect, with drinking fountains being shut off throughout the school, bottled water being provided and special precautions being implemented for the preparation and handling of food in the kitchen.

At the middle and high school, a surveillance sample was collected on Nov. 12 and tested positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli.

As was the case at the elementary school, Department of Health officials determined that the installation of a water softening system in late October was completed without sufficiently shock disinfecting the system afterward.

District officials completed a shock disinfection on Nov. 15 and, on Nov. 18, five coliform samples were collected from various locations within the school. Of the five samples, four were positive for total coliform, but negative for e. coli.

The school was placed on a boil water advisory on Nov. 19, and that also remains in effect.

The district was required to submit a plan of action that addresses the issue to the Department of Health by Dec. 6, a goal they met. Their plan called for the installation of chlorination systems at both schools to make the water potable again.

But, other issues will still need to be addressed, Mr. Vigliotti said, reiterating what he had told board of education members in December - that a capital project might be in order.

“This is only a temporary fix for our whole issue,” he said.

He said their goal would be to pay for the project with no impact on taxpayers, using up the remainder of their EXCEL funding.

“If we can do it in such a way as to get other things done with no increase to taxpayers, that’s a little more palatable,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

A capital project would address issues such as replacement of the water storage tanks and piping and filtration system.

“We want to be sure, if we have to do some things, that we put the district in a good position for the next 10 years or so. EXCEL money is there, so it makes sense,” he said.

Mr. Vigliotti had provided board members in December with a suggested list of items that could be included in the project. He asked board members to review them so they could compile a list, and he said he also wanted to solicit input from others regarding what they thought should be included in another project.

That would allow them to get an idea of the scope of the project and an estimate on how much it would cost.

“We’ll have to see what the parameters of another project would be,” he said. “Water quality is pretty high on the list, I would think, for most people. We took step one, now we have a couple more steps to take. Hopefully we’ll be able to get other work done and be in a better spot.”

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