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Halfmoon turns to Troy for water as Hudson River dredging begins

The entire operation will cost GE an estimated $780 million.

The worry in Halfmoon and in other towns along the Hudson like Stillwater and Waterford is that PCBs will be kicked up by the dredging process and enter the drinking water before they can be caught. The EPA will pay for the difference in the cost of an alternative water source, but only when the PCBs reach a level of 500 parts per trillion or when the dredging is happening nearby and timely testing would not be possible.

According to EPA Spokeswoman Kristen Skopeck, the first phase of dredging is happening too far upstream for PCBs to escape the water tests.

"In phase two when we are close to them, we will pay for it. We don't feel they would have to use it for Phase One," she said of Halfmoon.

The EPA will test the Hudson at Halfmoon and report the results to the town regardless, said Skopeck.

Wormuth said she isn't convinced the Hudson's water would be safe, even during phase one. She argued that there are no scientific studies regarding the long-term effects of low level PCB exposure, and said she doesn't want the town to be a "guinea pig" in this regard.

"We don't feel we should be exposed to one part per trillion more because GE polluted the river," said Wormuth. "We don't feel we should bear an increased burden because of that."

The town does test for PCB levels regularly, and the water treatment plant has special filters. Before dredging, the PCB level was negligible.

Halfmoon hopes to recoup the cost of buying and treating Troy water through a lawsuit against GE and the EPA " it was recently revised to drop a demand to delay the dredging, but still asks for compensation for the cost of alternative water for the entirety of the dredging process. If that lawsuit fails, though, the increased cost of buying Troy water would likely be passed on Halfmoon's 12,000 water customers in the form of rate increases.

The affected towns along the Hudson were looking into buying water from the upcoming Saratoga County system in the future, providing the line could be extended from Malta, its planned terminus. Wormuth said while that option remains a future possibility, the town is happy with the agreement with Troy for now.

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