Residents blast state for not entirely paying for water line after it announces welcome center
“I really think it shows huge disrespect to the people.” Widespread salt contamination has afflicted residents in the town for decades and has been widely blamed on the state Department of Transportation’s salt Barn on Route 12.
The town’s solution has been to build an estimated $13 million water line, a project that is funded with about $5 million in grants and about $8 million from a no-interest loan from the Environmental Facilities Corp. Rather than relying on a loan, which would require residents to pay a flat annual cost of $625 plus $3.50 per 1,000 gallons of water, residents and officials have called on the state to pay for the construction of the entire project so they won’t have to bear the cost.
Joe A. Rotella, Fishers Landing, said the state has “got to own up to” the contamination and replace the loan with a grant.
“I feel like the real question is whether the state will be held to the same standard in dealing with the issue,” said Stephanie G. Weiss, a Fishers Landing resident.
Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday announced the construction and opening of a new North Country Welcome Center by fall 2018 near the Thousand Islands Bridge.
“The thing that upsets me the most is that they’re going to be the first thing that’s hooked up because they’re closest” to the water source, Mr. Rarick said.
It just makes me sick to my stomach to think that could happen.” Several residents, including Mrs. Weiss, Mr. Rotella and Laura A. Lamon, Seaway Avenue, criticized the state for allocating funds to a new welcome center and not providing additional money to the water line after a presentation at the Fishers Landing fire hall where Virginia Tech researchers, the same who uncovered the widespread lead contamination in Flint, Mich., presented their findings from an analysis of 90 samples from private wells in the town they collected in 2016.
“As a further example of state assistance to Orleans, EFC has provided $900,000 for the costs of bottled water and testing.
After studying the samples, Min Tang, a post-doctoral research associate at Virginia Tech, and Hisyam Mohsin, an undergraduate research assistant, conducted a lab experiment using synthetic water that replicated the Orleans water and found that increased levels of chlorides in the well water, possibly from road salt, increased corrosion in plumbing materials.
“The (state) Department of Environmental Conservation has been unable to conclusively tie the salt contamination to road salt use or storage based upon a geological assessment and information provided to DEC by the Town of Orleans,” said DOT spokesman Joseph Morrissey in an email, adding that the assessment “was based on a review of surface water gradients and features to determine the source of salt contamination present in Orleans.