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Rotterdam water supply strained

Water District No. 5 emergency repairs authorized, town eyes new well

— Rotterdam officials are already thinking about warm summer days, but not for same reason as most winter-weary residents. They’re trying to make sure they have enough water to meet demands.

The Rotterdam Town Board Wednesday, Feb. 13, approved emergency work on Well Number Four at its Rice Road Water Treatment Facility, with rehabilitation and cleaning costs not to exceed $37,495. The hasty repairs underscore a bigger water pressure issue within Water District No. 5, on which students from Schalmont High School’s Syracuse University Project Advance Public Affairs class gave a presentation at that meeting.

A previous study on the district’s water supply system concluded if even one of the wells stopped functioning during summer months the town wouldn’t be able to meet demand for water. This spurred the town to authorize emergency work now rather than perform it later this year as planned.

Town officials are also exploring the possibility of installing a new well at an estimated cost of $400,000 to meet high demand during summer months.

“It appears like we have some consensus on the board to pursue this,” Supervisor Harry Buffardi said Friday, Feb. 15.

Another proposal made by students was to construct a new million-gallon water tank tower, which would cost approximately $1.75 million. Town officials appeared reluctant to pursue the investment, which might not be needed to fix problems.

“We have been advised by (Senior Water Plant Operator) Clark Collins … that we should pursue another wellhead but we do need to pursue a water tower at this time,” Buffardi said.

Collins said intense growth in the water district, located in the western portion of the town, has continued to tax resources.

“For the town to continue to grow at the pace they want to, they should put a new well in,” Collins said.

Schalmont students also concluded further development isn’t possible without remediation and pointed to last July as evidence. It was then one water treatment plant’s motors cracked after running nonstop for 16 days. The water distribution system was designed in 1955.

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