‘SMART Waters’ report due soon

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government on April 14 will announce details of a final report designed to determine if it’s feasible to consolidate all water and sewer services in the county, county officials said this week.

The county plans to hold a press conference to announce results of the project, dubbed “SMART Waters,” before the Board of Supervisors’ monthly meeting that starts at 1 p.m. in the Supervisor’s Chambers of the County Office Building.

“The details will be released shortly,” county Planning Director James Mraz told the board’s Economic Development-Environment Committee on Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors on July 8 hired Environmental Design Partnership for $50,000 to design a system that could consolidate all water and sewer services within the county. The county hasn’t decided to pursue that option, and the county’s work is to determine feasibility of consolidation.

Mraz said he has continued attending progress meetings with Environmental Design Partnership and work continued recently on the final report.

He said two reports are being prepared for the news conference. One of the reports will be on “the need for economic growth” in the county. Mraz said the other will be Environmental Design Partnership’s report on its findings “regarding a regional water and wastewater system in the county.”

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

Many county officials believe a countywide system will spur the local economy, creating more business and lowering property taxes.

Some officials from the Glove Cities last year are 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 both city and county water systems.

The committee previously directed the Planning Department to identify potential 200-acre tracts of land that could be prepared as shovel-ready sites for new businesses. Mraz said Tuesday that 31 tracts were originally identified, and those were pared down to a dozen.

“The most important piece is the availability of water and sewer,” Mraz said.

He said a final assessment on the water and wastewater availability of these sites will be done after the Board of Supervisors decides whether to do water and sewer consolidation.

“The county is going to have to set this aside for while until I hear from you folks on whether you want to pursue SMART Waters,” Mraz said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.