‘SMART Waters’ report due soon

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government’s “SMART Waters” project – attempting to determine if it’s feasible to consolidate all water and sewer services in the county – should be done by February.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Rick Argotsinger said Tuesday that engineer Travis Mitchell of Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park, Saratoga County, is putting final touches on the analysis. He said the report is due to the county and to the public by February.

“I think it’s going to be released around the first of the month,” Argotsinger said. “It’s going to include a number of options.”

Mitchell said this morning his draft report is “getting close” to being completed.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on July 8 hired Environmental Design Partnership for $50,000 to design a system to possibly consolidate all water and sewer services within the county.

Many county officials believe a countywide system – dubbed the “SMART Waters” project – will spur the local economy, creating more business and lowering property taxes.

Some officials from the Glove Cities last year were skeptical about a countywide water and sewer system. Some officials say the individual systems work fine now and they may lose control of their water and sewer systems under the county plan. They also fear the state may get involved in setting future water and sewer rates. Another concern was that city taxpayers may have to pay for a city water system and county water system.

Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael F. Gendron, chairman of the board’s Economic Development and Environment Committee, said if “you do a study, you don’t know what the results are going to be.”

But he expressed a hope “on a personal level,” that people take an “unbiased position” toward the SMART Waters findings.

There are six municipal water systems in the county. They are in the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown, the villages of Broadalbin, Mayfield and Northville, and at Sacandaga Park in Northampton. There are five municipal wastewater operations. They are in the two cities, the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield, and Sacandaga Park.

During a Fulton County “economic summit” in 2007, several community leaders said there was a dichotomy between the fact water and sewer capacity is one of the county’s strengths, but such services are largely unavailable outside the Glove Cities. The Fulton Montgomery CEO Roundtable’s regional business plan from 2011 lamented water and sewer not available where vacant, developable land exists.