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Brasher, Stockholm holding joint meeting to discuss water district

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MASSENA - A proposed joint water district serving the hamlets of Brasher Falls and Winthrop has been in the discussion stages since 2010.

Now, members of both the Brasher and Stockhlolm town boards will be meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in an effort to move the project forward.

Brasher Supervisor M. James Dawson said he had received a letter from Public Health Engineer Ronald E. Sheppard from the state Department of Health suggesting the two boards hold a joint meeting.

They had applied for funding from the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund, but the initial application scored an 80, and funding was only given to projects scoring 145 or higher. But Mr. Dawson said, with recent water issues at St. Lawrence Central School, they could conceivably score more points. Grant funding recipients will be announced in late August.

“They figure, with the school, the points will be up much higher,” he said.

They’re also seeking funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Councilman John M. Keenan, Brasher’s representative for the project, said Thursday’s meeting will be attended by Mr. Sheppard and Carrie M. Tuttle from the Development Authority of the North Country. The towns are considering using the services of DANC for the project.

“DANC has proposed coming in and joining us. They would look for funding,” Councilman Wilfred Recore said.

“If we were to hire DANC, they’ll go through and present the data of what’s going on in the town of Brasher. This is what they do best,” Mr. Keenan added.

He said they needed to start moving now to get the project going.

“We want to get things rolling now. We need to start getting our ducks lined up,” he said.

Mr. Dawson agreed, noting they had already paid engineering fees for the project and needed to move forward.

“I think we need to do it sooner rather than later before we spend more money,” he said.

“This is why we’re having a workshop. It will be very informative,” Mr. Keenan said.

Mr. Dawson suggested they also needed to gauge community sentiment about the proposed water district. He noted that 51 percent of the assessed value in each community would need to approve the move.

“I think we need to find out how people feel,” he said.

A survey conducted in the summer of 2011 saw mixed reaction from local residents about the proposed water system. Forty-five percent of 189 residents who responded to the survey 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 weren’t 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 wells 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 had 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.

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