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Village may find water’s cost hard to swallow


CHATHAM – Though it looked like a regular meeting of the Chatham Village Board last week, officially it was the first Public Works Committee meeting, where the main topic was water and sewer. The village is getting ready to undertake a $2.3-million upgrade of the sewer processing plant, the cost of which will mean a $90-increase in the annual bill for village residents.

The board also talked about upgrading the village water tower and work that needs to be done at the reservoir. The reservoir leaks about 50,000 gallons of water a day, according the Pat Prendergrast, the village engineer. Before solving that problem though, holes in the water tower must be patched.

Mr. Prendergrast suggested the village look into using one water source and closing the reservoir. He asked village officials to look at “your long term plan for your 48-year-old water tower and your reservoir that nobody likes.”

The fire company likes having two sources of water to help with water pressure, and Water and Sewer Commissioner George Grant defended the reservoir. “This reservoir had been good to us since 1907,” he said.

Mr. Grant thought it was in the interest of village taxpayers to patch the water tower rather than build a new one. “If we maintain it and coat it every 10 years like we were supposed to it would last for another 30 to 40 years,” he said of the water tower.

The most immediate issue before the committee is the sewer project, including the payments that need to be made on a $3-million loan from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation. The 30-year loan has a 2% interest rate and includes $2.3 million for upgrades on the sewer plant on Brookside Avenue, which will improve the processing of waste, using a more efficient approach and adding a tank to handle overflow. The loan will also allow the village to retire $700,000 in past debt for work on outdated sewer pipes and a washed-out trestle, and the purchase of a new sludge processing machine.

Mr. Prendergrast calculated that paying off the debt would add about $90 a year to the bills for the average village residential water and sewer user. The village was under a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to do the work.

“People aren’t going to happy with an increase,” said Mayor Tom Curran.

“We’ve done the best to keep it cheap forever; now we need to do improvements,” said Mr. Pendergrast.

The mayor also brought the Safe Routes to School grant that the village was awarded several years ago to repair and build sidewalks near the school. Mayor Curran said that the state had made cutbacks to the project and if the village decides not to go forward with the project it will still owe $36,000 for the design. The mayor and members of the committee plan to meet with representatives for the state about the project.

The next regular board meeting will be Thursday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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