A Regional Plan

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government can successfully put a limited regional water and sewer system into place, an engineering firm told local officials Monday.

The plan, however, can’t be implemented throughout the county, and the city of Johnstown doesn’t have excess water to contribute at this time, according to a report issued by the firm. Gloversville, meanwhile, has 3.12 million gallons per day of excess water capacity, the report shows.

“We need to know where the water and wastewater capacities are going to come from,” engineer Travis Mitchell, a principal with Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton, said during a news conference Monday to announce his firm’s SMART Waters project findings.

The Fulton County 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.

County officials say the system could help the tax base and economic development.

The county hasn’t decided to pursue any plan yet. The next step will be for the Board of Supervisors to endorse the plan presented Monday.

“I think it’s great for the county,” Northampton Supervisor James Groff said today. “We should all be looking at this with an open mind.”

Groff, whose town includes the Sacandaga Park water and wastewater systems, said cooperation on the SMART Waters project would be smart for the county as a whole.

County officials on Monday released the Environmental Design Partnership’s report at a news conference.

One of the major recommendations is the county should “evaluate the potential for developing groundwater wells outside the Tryon facility in southeastern Fulton County.” The county is developing Tryon in Perth – a former state youth detention campus – into a business park.

Six municipal water systems are 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 wastewater operations – in Gloversville, Johnstown, the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield and Sacandaga Park.

Mitchell stated, “We find some of the systems have excess surplus capacities.”

“Environmental Design Partnership believes a regional system can provide economic benefits for the region by promoting land development,” the report said.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the county will arrange meetings with potential “municipal partners” to review the feasibility of a regional water and sewer system.

The report said the county should “recognize that it does not appear to be economically feasible to extend water and wastewater infrastructure throughout Fulton County.” Nevertheless, the report calls on the county to hire an engineering firm to prepare a SMART Infrastructure Growth Plan.

The county also should apply for state and federal funding, the report said.

Fulton County should “commence immediate discussions” with municipalities to provide water services, the report stated.

The report said the county also should review whether it can get water from the city of Amsterdam and develop the Great Sacandaga Lake as a new surface supply.

The report said the county should help the city of Johnstown secure additional water capacity by “acquiring capacity from the city of Gloversville, securing additional surface reservoir capacity [and] developing new groundwater sources.”

Fulton County also should approach the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield and town of Northampton regarding “their willingness to provide wastewater capacity to a regional wastewater system,” the report stated.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, who attended the news conference, said today much financial information needs to be reviewed, but he said officials from his city remain open-minded about the proposed project.

“I think at this time, the Common Council and I want to start meeting with the county to see how we can bring jobs to the area,” King said.

Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius, who also attended the county presentation, said today he has to confer with personnel at the city Water Department.

“We’re going to review all that information and actually have an answer for it,” he said. “As soon as I get a handle on this and review this, we’ll go from there.”

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