SARATOGA COUNTY: Lawsuit muddies county water

Alexander Mackay, the owner of the county's largest private water system, has filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the environmental study done for the proposed Saratoga County water system.

The lawsuit, filed late last week in the county clerk's office in Ballston Spa, states that the environmental study done for a planned county-run water system was inadequate, and that the county failed to take a hard look at several of the project's potentially significant environmental impacts.

The suit claims the county didn't sufficiently examine how the water system would increase development pressure.

"A lack of public utilities such as municipal water has been recognized as a factor which can limit growth within a community," the lawsuit states. "If a new water source becomes available, it can induce growth by removing the scarcity, which had previously limited development in the area."

The suit states the county also did not adequately consider stormwater runoff or the impact it would have on the view shed, and did not fully consider the possible negative impacts the system would have on public parks, including the Moreau Lake State Park and the Zim Smith recreation trail.

Mackay and his Malta-based water and land development companies seek to annul the county's environmental review and stop plans to draw water from the Hudson River in Moreau and pipe it to Malta. Mackay's private water company, Saratoga Water Services, serves thousands of residential and commercial customers in central Malta, and a decade ago fought off a county effort to take over the system by eminent domain. Mackay has spoken out in the past against the county water plan.

County supervisors in August adopted findings that the planned county project won't have significant negative impacts on the environment, ending a year of environmental studies.

County Water Committee chairman Raymond F. Callanan, R-Ballston, said the lawsuit has not changed the county's position.

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