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Saratoga County water project surges ahead

The ongoing project to provide Saratoga County water is flowing along smoothly, according to water authority officials, and there has even been talk of expanding the areas it is to serve as the towns of Halfmoon, Stillwater and Waterford prepare for a coming EPA dredging of the Hudson River that could endanger their water source.

Although the $67 million county water project was chiefly intended to provide 3 million gallons of water daily to a Foundry company microchip manufacturing facility in the Luther Forest Technology Campus, where the line is planned to terminate, newfound interest from neighboring municipalities could change that.

The towns of Stillwater and the Village of Stillwater have asked the county to investigate the possibility of extending the system to Stillwater because they don't have an alternative water source, said John Lawler, chairman of the Saratoga County Water Authority and supervisor of Waterford. "Stillwater doesn't have an option, they need an alternate water supply."

All together, the communities could draw 4 million gallons per day, effectively doubling the scope of the water system. Although the water authority will be conducting a formal study, Lawler indicated that usage fees would offset the costs of extending the line to already existing infrastructure.

"The initial review seems to indicate that would more than pay for the cost of the extension of the line," he said.

The three towns draw their water from the Hudson, and fear that when the EPA dredges the river later this year for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, a known carcinogen) it will make their water supply undrinkable. The EPA has offered to build a connection to Troy's water system for Halfmoon and Waterford, but won't pay for any increases in the cost of water. That arrangement isn't acceptable to local leaders.

"My concern is that there's never been a cleanup of this scale," said Halfmoon Supervisor Mindy Wormuth. "The EPA should err on the side of caution and buy the water."

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