County OKs regional water plan

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday overwhelmingly supported creation of a regional water and wastewater system in the county.

The county will now talk to local municipalities about whether they want to sell their excess water and sewer capacity to the county for its system.

“The Board of Supervisors believes that a well-coordinated regional water and wastewater system will promote economic development, create jobs and improve the quality of life for all county residents,” the resolution stated.

The new system – dubbed “SMART Waters” – will use the existing Fulton County Water and Sewer Agency created in July 2012 as a conduit for discussions with municipalities.

“I think it’s important we endorse it going forward,” said Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, chairman of the board’s Finance Committee.

Board Chairman Rick Argotsinger said he has talked to a number of his constituents and they say the plan is “positive.”

The only no vote came from Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Gregory Young, who couldn’t be reached for comment after the meeting or this morning.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors last July hired Environmental Design Partnership to determine the feasibility of a system that can pursue receipt of water and sewer services from municipalities within the county. The Clifton Park firm released its findings to the county April 14, determining county government can successfully put a limited regional water and sewer system into

place.

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

Before the vote, two people expressed their support for SMART Waters during the public-speaker portion of the session.

Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger said he was representing the Fulton-Montgomery CEO Roundtable, which is “totally invested” in having the plan move forward.

“We think it is absolutely the way to go,” Swanger said. “But there has to be something in it for municipalities.”

Mark Kilmer, president of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, stated, “I encourage the Board of Supervisors to endorse the SMART Waters initiative. Remember, waters over the dam is dollars down the drain.”

Other legislative supporters of the regional system included Johnstown 1st Ward Supervisor Richard Handy.

“The tax rates in this county are way high and I think we can stabilize them and make them lower,” he said. “Now’s the time we can generate new revenues.”

Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. stated, “I believe you have to vote for this. It’s the future of our county. It’s the future of our two cities.”

Gloversville 6th Ward Supervisor Warren Greene said he’s seen “deterioration” of his city over the years. He said water is a resource that “goes on forever,” and excess capacity should be tapped for future use.

“I don’t know why anybody would say no to that,” Greene said.

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