Tupper Lake’s well search continues

TUPPER LAKE – The village board got some advice Monday on how to best move its groundwater well drilling project forward.

During Monday’s meeting, Timothy Burley, director of C2AE capital consultants architecture and engineering firm, told the board it needs to have better direction.

“To date, honestly you haven’t had a real good direction in terms of finalizing your plan of finance for this project,” Burley said. “I’m just being honest; I think it could have been better. You’ve had your letter going on a year or so for your hardship application, and you borrowed interim monies to advance your well drilling, and in reality, you can get zero-percent short-term financing for all these activities. What we really want to do is close in short-term so you can get access to all your money and expedite a short-term closing.”

The village borrowed $300,000 at a 2 percent interest rate through a bond anticipation note to begin drilling test wells.

Burley explained the village can get a zero-percent loan for roughly $900,000 and $2 million in grants and pay off its short-term borrowing if it meets three goals for a short-term close.

The village already passed a bond resolution, but it also needs a letter from the state historic preservation office, stating the area affected by drilling doesn’t have historic interest.

Burley said the village also needs to file for hardship status by the March deadline. That status comes with its own set of requirements.

“You’ve had a large amount of effort that was done with your prior engineering firm, and when you work within this (hardship) program you have minority and women business enterprise goals, so your project and consultants and contractors that you need that go and work on this project all have to meet at least a 20 percent combined goal,” Burley said. “What I didn’t want to do was have them get too far engaged and not understand that they needed to meet those goals as part of your financing.”

Burley said the village also needs to track any work done on the wells by village employees.

“(Village Water and Sewer Treatment Superintendent) Mark Robillard has been expending effort, staff, materials, manpower and assisting with the well drilling,” Burley said. “They are what is deemed as force-account activities because he’s assisting you on the project. You need to track that as an accounting mechanism. You can look at it as an in-kind contribution, but I don’t think you should do that as part of your project development cost. Those fees should get reimbursed back into the appropriate water fund.”

Village Mayor Paul Maroun said that labor is being tracked.

The village hired HydroSource Associates Inc. earlier this year to identify and test six potential high-yield water source sites: Pitchfork Pond on Kildare Road, Underwood Road and Glenwood Avenue. Each site has favorable conditions for becoming a high-yield groundwater source.

The company drilled two test wells on the Lyme Adirondack Timberland property. The water quality was favorable there, but the yield was not, so other sites will be tested.

The decision to find a new water source came after water quality assessments conducted by the state Department of Health determined the village is over the safe zone for disinfectant by-products. The village has until July 2015 to fix the problem.

The village decided to look elsewhere after digging two wells near the sewage treatment plant revealed the water there was loaded with iron.

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.

The village’s water treatment plant was built in 1951. To meet present-day state water quality standards with its existing water source, the village would have to build a new water treatment plant. Robillard said that could cost $8 million.

Instead, he advised the board to move to a groundwater system.

“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.”

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.