Available grants could significantly lower cost for new Northeast Water District interconnection 

NEW SCOTLAND — In January, the town had to take the Northeast Water District offline after an unusually high master-meter reading, leaving its customers to pay more for their water. The source of the high reading — a 4,000-gallon-an-hour leak — has since been fixed, but now an even better solution may be economically feasible.  

At its monthly meeting, the New Scotland Town Board voted to approve an engineering task order for Barton and Loguidice to prepare a grant application for the Northeast Water District’s interconnection with the Kensington Woods Water District.

“In light of the tank failure that we had last year and the repair, and the water quality difference between Northeast and Kensington, and in light of a lack of fire protection at Northeast, [the town has] been investigating the option to connect the Kensington Woods well source,” Councilman William Hennessy said on June 10.

“Barton and Loguidice suggested there is significant grant opportunities here that we were not necessarily aware of,” Hennessy said. “The grant would provide 60-percent funding for the project, and we just learned today that even the repair costs can be eligible for reimbursement under the same grant.”

The interconnection between Northeast and Kensington Woods would cost about $442,000, which includes construction and engineering costs, Supervisor Douglas LaGrange said. 

And, if the town were to roll in the cost of the tank repair, $21,000, the total would be $463,000. With the grant covering 60 percent of that cost, $277,800, district users would be on the hook for $185,200, he said. 

“So in a sense, they still have a bond to pay on,” LaGrange said, referring to the project’s original $620,000 bond, which will be paid off some time in 2021. The new bond wouldn’t start until 2022, so district users would in effect “be at a third or less of what their payments are now,” LaGrange said.

The feasibility study showed that it would cost around $215,000 to replace the 18,000-gallon tank, and the district still wouldn’t have fire protection (currently, it has to be trucked in), and would continue to have issues with water clarity, LaGrange said.

If the town doesn’t get the grant, the $22,000 laid out for the June 10 task order isn’t a total loss because included in that cost is the interconnection’s preliminary engineering design as well as State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) assistance, which can be used in the future, because the town at some point plans to put in the interconnection.

“So to me, I think it’s a positive and calculated risk to expend the money now and get this preliminary design phase done and get the grant applied for,” LaGrange said. “And the numbers work for the district — that’s all I’m concerned about.”

Town attorney Michael Naughton said that New Scotland had received  assurances from Barton and Loguidice “that they have reviewed all the hydrological studies that have been done so far with respect to the wells and the tank. And they assured us that there is sufficient water at the Kensington facility to service Kensington and Northeast.”

The 127 customers of the Northeast Water District reside along Route 85A, just outside the village of Voorheesville. 

Many of the district’s users live on Elizabeth and Robin drives, and on Appleblossom and Smith lanes; the district also includes approximately 21 homes on Forest Drive, just off Route 85; and the 18 lots of the LeVie Farm subdivision further down Route 85A toward Route 85.

New Scotland has nine different water districts.

Customers in districts with in-town water sourcesClarksville, Kensington Woods, and Northeast — pay less for water than customers in the other six districts who are supplied from either the village of Voorheesville or the town of Bethlehem because those two municipalities are allowed to charge out-of-town customers double what they charge their own residents. The New Salem Water District, which gets a special rate from Bethlehem, is an exception. 

For the couple of months that Northeast district customers had to buy their water from Voorheesville, they were paying 1.25 times the in-village rate, which was considered a deal because the village usually charges out-of-village customers double.  

 

Codifying Ethics Law

In other business, the town board will hold a virtual public hearing on July 6 to codify New Scotland’s Ethics Law. The hearing isn’t for a new law but rather to take years of old laws and put them in one place, similar to what the town did in May with its zoning law.

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