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Fort Covington asks SRCS school board to take its water proposal seriously

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MALONE - The supervisor of the town of Fort Covington urged the Salmon River Central School Board to support the municipality’s effort provide water to the school.

Supervisor Patricia Manchester wanted to remind the board about the many ways Fort Covington has helped the school with the water problems.

“The school has worked with the [state Department of Environmental Conservation] and the town of Fort Covington to clean up the acetone mess,” Ms. Manchester said. “The town of Fort Covington has provided thousands of gallons of potable water to the school district and taken contaminated water to the waste water treatment plant.”

Ms. Manchester’s comments came days after representatives of the town, the school district and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council met to review proposals for an upgrade to the district’s water system. The state Department of Health has mandated that Salmon River find a replacement for its water system after the district’s geothermal heating and cooling system leaked in 2010, contaminating the well from which the school draws its water. The district is examining proposals to provide water to the school from the town and the tribe.

The district has forwarded the competing proposals to the state Department of Education for review.

Ms. Manchester said the town has two wells and plans to drill an additional well if the Fort Covington proposal is the one chosen. Chris Crolius of March Associates, the district’s consultant on its capital project, said, “As I understood it, for Fort Covington anyway, there would be a new well drilled and the impression I got from [town engineer] John [Carr] was the new well was going to replace one of the older wells, that is impression I got.”

Ms. Manchester assured the board that the town has two existing wells and that the third well would not replace either of the existing wells.

Ms. Manchester also disputed a characterization by a district consultant that the town water system is “failing.”

“It is not a failing system, it is an old system, that the people of Fort Covington are very proud of. There are a lot of municipalities that don’t have a municipal water system. The water department has zero debt; we maintain that system with zero debt. We don’t expect to have huge debt in the future,” Ms. Manchester said. “The town has been very much into this project.”

She pointed out that Fort Covington has made $75,000 in upgrades to the system in the past five to six years.

Ms. Manchester addressed concerns that the town has one operator for the water system, while the tribe has five.

“The town has one operator, he operates the water and sewer plant and he helps out the school district with their water and sewer plant and helps the tribe with their water and sewer plant. We have others that are trained in the operation, so you don’t have to worry about the possibility of not getting water,” she said.

Ms. Manchester asked the school board to take a serious look at the Fort Covington proposal. “It is a community that has supported this school. It was one of the communities that started this centralized school ,and I think that if the school can provide an upgrade for the residents of Fort Covington than I think that is the way to go. Fort Covington would get the improvements and we would like you to consider Fort Covington,” Ms. Manchester said.

Salmon River Superintendent Jane Collins said, “We have a good proposal from the town. We will take that proposal forward to the state and have the state look at this proposal for Salmon River.”

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