"You've heard of the trihalomethane problem in Ulysses and we have one on the Emmons Road tank," she said. "The reason we have a problem with the buildup of trihalomethanes is the water usage is not high enough, so it sits in the tank for a while. Articles in the paper are quite sensational. But we've been working with TG Miller and Bolton Point on how to remedy this."
This year Bolton Point Municipal Water System agreed to split the cost of flushing the tank to move the old water out and replace it with new water that had lower trihalomethane levels. Miller says the flushed water costs between $8,000 and $10,000 per year. The water was flushed into the lake where the Cayuga Power Plant is located. Bolton Point provides drinking water to five Tompkins County communities including the Towns of Dryden, Ithaca, Lansing, and the Villages of Cayuga Heights and Lansing.
Miller says flushing the tank did bring trihalomethane down, but the Town will be on the hook for the whole cost if it needs to be done again next year. Instead she proposed that the board consider a more permanent fix.
"It's not a cheap solution to the problem," Miller said. "But we really have to do this. We have to take care of it."
Trihalomethane is a byproduct of the chlorination process. Because there are relatively few customers in the northwest part of the town THM levels there are likely to rise. She said the water commission plans to reduce THM levels by flushing that part of the system. Miller added that installation of an aerator will provide a permanent solution.
"It used to be that they sampled all the tanks and took an average of all the tanks," Miller explained. "Some tanks are very low. That average, then, was well below the state number. As it turns out the state has now decided to look at each tank individually and your individual tank has to meet those numbers. Our tank on Emmons Road doesn't meet the numbers in the summer months, primarily because in hot weather more gas dissolves in the water. We don't have a problem in the winter months, but in the summer we do."
TG Miller Engineers presented Miller with a plan late Wednesday to install a mixer to keep the water moving in the tank and an aerator to keep trihalomethane levels within an acceptable range. Deputy Supervisor Sharon Bowman said the project is estimated at between $85,000 and $100,000. The Town is planning another project to construct a new water tank on Bone Plain Road that will help pressurize the low pressure area around Whispering Pines and Warren Road.
"We are proposing to pay for the cost of this out of current appropriations," she said. "When we go to finance the Bone Plaine Water tank we'll roll that cost into a ban, and ultimately a bond. Because it's a capital improvement project it is subject to bid. If this is rolled into a bond with the Bone Plain Road tank, which is going to be a big number, I'm guessing it will be a 20 or 25 year retirement of the debt."
Because both projects are part of the town's consolidated water district they can be combined into a single funding plan. Bowman said that only residents within the water district pay for its capital projects. The expense will not come out of the general tax fund or apply to those who are not in the water district.
"They have had very good results using this method in other places," Miller said. "They had very good results with this method."
Miller asked board members to read the engineer's proposal and said engineer David Herrick will be invited to talk to the board at its next working meeting in the beginning of May.