County pooling details for water plans

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County officials this week denied the county is holding back information to local government officials about the SMART Waters initiative, saying they are simply gathering more information.

Members of the Gloversville Common Council last week questioned why the county hasn’t contacted them about SMART Waters, which will eventually seek excess water and sewer capacities, including from the cities. Gloversville city Attorney Anthony Casale said it was “very troubling that we have not [gotten] one shred of detail.”

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Tuesday the county still has internal work to do before approaching the common councils, which he said may occur in “a month or two.”

“We want to have specific data to submit to the cities,” Stead said. “We’re getting there.”

He said the county is currently trying to determine through the cities’ water boards if there are any “physical constraints” to future construction that might involve the SMART Waters initiative.

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 says it intends to talk to all local municipalities involved about whether they want to sell their excess water and sewer capacity for the county system.

In his monthly report to the Board of Supervisors on Monday at the County Office Building, board Chairman Rick Argotsinger said he and some other county officials met during the last couple weeks with the Gloversville Water Board and the Johnstown Water Board.

“They’ve been very receptive and we had excellent meetings,” Argotsinger said.

He noted the county has not reached out to the common councils yet, as the county initially tries to obtain more specifics on “volume and pricing” from the cities’ respective water departments.

Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said he realizes there are critics of SMART Waters from his city. But he said the county has many “pieces of the puzzle” to fit together before the initiative can more forward in a meaningful way.

“But SMART Waters will grow and this county can grow,” Lauria said.

Fulton County officials are considering several ways to improve water services as part of SMART Waters, 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, being 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.

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