Well, well, well

The ongoing water system rehabilitation project in Red Hook Village has reached a milestone with the conclusion of Phase 1 in sight.

The project, started in February, involved cleaning and inspecting the seven active wells that draw from an underground aquifer off Firehouse Lane, replacing pumps, and also replacing aging water meters in residences and commercial properties.

According to Mayor Ed Blundell, the new meters and pumps will allow the village board to assess the levels of water that can be safely pumped out without depleting the aquifer. They will also allow the village to gauge how much water it can provide to its residents and whether there might be excess to sell as drinking water to other municipalities.

The project was prompted in part by a 2010 notification from the Dutchess County Department of Health that the village needed to correct a number of issues involving its water output. The concern focused on the amount of water available to satisfy current and future customers if the village had any new development.

Robert Flores, from CT Male, the contractor overseeing the project, made a short presentation on some of the preliminary findings for the project at the village board’s Sept. 9 meeting.

He reported that the wells in general were running at higher capacity now and two of them were refilling faster than they can pump water out. That means they could handle a larger pump and provide more water to the system if it were needed, he added, noting that higher-capacity pumps could be included in Phase 2.

Two other wellheads were closed down many years ago due to high levels of salinity. These wells were left in a “nebulous state,” according to Blundell, and have not been properly sealed with concrete because the village could not decide what to do with them.

The board requested that the two wells be tested for salinity again before they can decide on further action. “These two wells are 300 feet through solid rock, and we want to make sure that we know whether or not the water is drinkable, as it would cost about $100,000-$150,000 to drill these wells again….The salt storage on the property has long since been removed and so [they] may have recovered” to safe drinking levels, Blundell said.

According to CT Male, the two wells could yield between 50,000 to 130,000 gallons a day and it would cost about $75,000 to reinstall the pumps for them. The money for this project, if the wells are proven viable, will be sought in a Community Development Block Grant in 2014.

The entire project was estimated last year to cost $8.9 million. Phase 1 was estimated to cost $1.3 million, and is being funded by a low-interest loan for almost all of that from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because the USDA doesn’t pay until the project is completed, the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation is funding it in the meanwhile.

According to Flores, Phase I is currently under budget by about $72,000. He suggested using some of those funds to improve security around the water supply by adding fences and lighting. The board requested a cost estimate for the security additions.

There is also a plan to install a wired Internet connection for the pump house to allow engineers to deal with problems remotely when possible. The current system is set up with an auto dialer that only alerts the system operator about problems but offers no direct control.

USDA has just given the village the go-ahead for the $3.4 million needed to fund Phase 2 of the project. This part of the project will focus on major infrastructure repairs, such as increasing water storage capacity and replacing many of the water mains below ground throughout the village.

The water system serves more than 2,730 people through 827 service connections.

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