SARATOGA COUNTY: Water project hits snag

Control of Saratoga County's $67 million water project may have to revert to the county Board of Supervisors.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2006 gave the board of supervisors a permit to install a waterline from Moreau to Malta, but refuses to transfer that permit to the Saratoga County Water Authority. The water authority took over the project early this year.

DEC officials said in a letter to the county that they had questions regarding the public necessity of the project, citing a lack of customers, and, more specifically, the town of Clifton Park not committing to buy water from the system.

"The circumstances of this project appear to have changed since December 2006, given that certain subscribers have withdrawn from the project," DEC project manager Thomas W. Hall wrote.

If a permit is not issued to the water authority, construction on the pipeline would have to stop under its supervision, or the county Board of Supervisors would have to once again assume control of the project.

Clifton Park, Saratoga County's largest municipality, withdrew from the project about the time the water authority took control and a full year after the original DEC permit was granted to the county Board of Supervisors. Clifton Park is a Glenville water district customer, although Clifton Park officials have yet to renew the contract with the Schenectady County municipality.

The county's plan is to draw water from the Hudson River aquifer in Moreau and pipe it along the Northway to the southern end of the county, where it will serve the Luther Forest Technology Campus. It has an estimated price tag of $67 million and depends on a $4.8 million loan from the county general fund until the plant is in its seventh year of operation.

In February, the county approved a business plan calling for the authority to have contracts to sell 3 million gallons per day before construction starts. Since then, the towns of Wilton and Ballston have signed contracts. Ballston is also contractually obligated to at least 125,000 gallons per year from Glenville.

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