More work on Tupper Lake water source

TUPPER LAKE – The village of Tupper Lake plans to drill more wells as it seeks a new source of drinking water.

The discussion came after water quality assessments conducted by the state Department of Health determined the village is still over the safe zone for disinfectant by-products.

“They take the current quarter we’re in, and then the previous three quarters, and check that number against the standard,” said Kevin Scheuer, a public safety engineer with the Saranac Lake district office of the state Health Department. “Anything over that has to be addressed.”

The Saranac Lake district office oversees community water supplies in Franklin, Essex and Hamilton counties.

The village of Tupper Lake currently gets its water from two sources: Tupper Lake and Simond Pond. Water from those sources contains tannins – naturally occurring plant polyphenols that can leach from submerged vegetation, often turning the water a tea color.

Alone, tannins are not considered problematic, but when tannin-containing water is treated with chlorine, new compounds are formed.

“It isn’t that the water isn’t being disinfected; it’s the byproducts of the disinfection,” Scheuer said.

In Tupper Lake, those by-products have been trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Scheuer said the water is still safe to drink, but added that the department of health believes long-term exposure to them could cause side effects.

“We’re always getting upgraded or new regulations handed down to us from the feds,” Scheuer said. “The particular issue here is that the older technology they use at Tupper Lake doesn’t work as well for disinfectant byproducts.”

The Tupper Lake treatment plant, built in 1951, wasn’t designed to handle new regulations.

To comply with the state’s July 2015 deadline, the village board is looking into using groundwater as a water source.

“They could build a new plant and change the way we filter water, but you’re talking an $8 million project,” said village Water and Sewer Treatment Superintendent Mark Robillard. “Instead, the plant would be eliminated completely. Groundwater is different technology.”

Claude Cormier, president of HydroSource Associates, Inc, spoke to village board members Tuesday. After conducting an assessment of potential well sites for the village, Cormier presented board members with three possible zones for drilling: Pitchfork Pond on Kildare Road, Underwood Road and Glenwood Avenue. Each site has favorable conditions for becoming a high-yield groundwater source.

If the landowners approve, test drilling will take place at each site, and those with the most favorable outcome will be considered. Once a site is chosen, a chemical feed pump and a pump to draw water out of the well must be constructed. Since the water is pulled from the ground, tannins are not an issue in the chlorinating process.

“You just pump it out, chlorinate it, and it goes right to the village,” Robillard said. “It’s a much simpler system than our current one.”

Several years ago, the village dug two groundwater wells near the sewage treatment plant, but the water contained high levels of iron.

“To correct that, the problem would cost too much money,” Mayor Paul Maroun said. “Claude has done work, both in Malone and in Saranac Lake, where they both had success in this. We’d like to continue moving ahead, and hopefully the landowners and the village can work together.”

Maroun added that the village will also install a secondary pipe which would serve as a back-up if a problem occurs with the main line.

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or