County weighs water projects

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County officials are considering several ways to improve water services, including drawing water from the Great Sacandaga Lake, extending water and sewer services from Amsterdam to Fulton County, and constructing a water line from Gloversville to the city of Johnstown.

The Fulton County Planning Department is proposing capital projects related to the ideas. The proposals, to be reviewed as 2015 capital projects, are related to the county’s SMART Waters initiative and are part of $1.68 million in capital budget requests for next year proposed by the Planning Department.

The Board of Supervisors’ Capital Projects Committee was due to review all of the county’s proposed 2015 capital projects today.

The county’s hope with SMART Waters is to implement a regional water and wastewater system using existing excess water and sewer capacity. The goal is to expand water and sewer services outside of the Glove Cities, which the county says not only benefits development, but will lower taxes.

Supervisors in 2013 hired Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park to develop a $50,000 report for what the county calls the SMART Waters project. Based on that report, supervisors supported creation of a regional water and wastewater system in the county based on the district’s existing water district. The county is talking to local municipalities about whether they want to sell their excess water and sewer capacity for the county system.

The Board of Supervisors recently authorized a new $45,000 contract with Environmental Design Partnership to prepare a SMART Growth Infrastructure Plan. This plan will identify specific areas of the county where water and wastewater services are desired.

The top capital priority for the planning department is a proposed $125,000 project.

“The first project involves preliminary engineering,” County Planning Director James Mraz said.

He said the first component of that project is to do preliminary engineering and prepare conceptual plans for obtaining water from the Great Sacandaga Lake.

Mraz said Fulton County must work with the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District to bring that goal to fruition.

“We’ve met with them and they’re interested in selling water to Fulton County,” he said.

Mraz said there is a provision in state conservation law that would allow the regulating district to sell Great Sacandaga Lake water. He said the county only needs regulating district approval, and not approval from municipalities surrounding the lake.

The regulating district indicated to Mraz that 2.5 billion gallons of water per day leave the lake for other areas, including downstate. Mraz said if Fulton County were to obtain “millions” of gallons per day of lake water, it would be considered an “insignificant” draw.

District Executive Director Michael Clark said today he had a meeting regarding SMART Waters and saw the report, but “that’s as far as it’s gone.” He said his board is “open to the idea” of selling water to Fulton County.

The second priority would be a $110,000 capital project involving construction of a new water line along Harrison Street to connect the Gloversville water system with the city of Johnstown water system. The project would allow Gloversville to supply additional water to Johnstown.

Mraz said this additional water would be needed to provide water for the proposed regional business park site.

The park would be built on just less than 300 acres of farmland in the town of Mohawk in Montgomery County. The site would be south of and adjacent to the Johnstown Industrial Park off Route 30A. Land would be annexed into the city of Johnstown to receive water and sewer services.

But Environmental Design Partnership’s report to Fulton County found the city of Johnstown has no excess water capacity. The report said the city’s average daily water use is 1.7 million gallons per day with a peak water usage of 3.1 million gallons per day. More significantly, the report by Environmental Design Partnership found the city had no excess water capacity beyond providing water for the existing city water uses.

Mraz said the new water line wouldn’t involve a long section. He said the Gloversville line goes down Harrison Street and crosses behind the Fulton County YMCA near Route 29. He said the city of Johnstown’s line is near the corner of Route 29 and Harrison Street near the county jail.

“They aren’t very far apart,” Mraz said of the two lines.

He said he’s talked to officials from both cities and the consensus is the new connecting line would help the delivery of water.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said today officials from his city are aware of the water line plan.

“We thought about it,” King said. “Our Common Council’s stance is we want to create jobs and we want to be fair. I’m open to the idea.”

Mraz said the second component of the first $125,000 project would be preliminary engineering extending city of Amsterdam water and wastewater services into Fulton County. The county and the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency are working to transform the former Tryon property in Perth into the proposed Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center.

Mraz said he’s talked to Amsterdam officials about the county’s proposal and they seem enthusiastic.

“We want to work in conjunction with the city of Amsterdam,” Mraz said. “There’s a willingness to pursue that.”

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane couldn’t be reached for comment this morning.

Amsterdam City Engineer Richard Miller and Waste Water Chief Plant Operator Ken Bray today both said they knew nothing about Fulton County’s engineering proposal. But Burns said he has conferred with Environmental Design Partnership about SMART Waters.

Michael Anich can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.