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Decision made on town's water future

Town will deliver Clapper Road water to residential users

15 years after building the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant, the Town of Bethlehem will soon be using it to its full, and originally intended, potential.

The Town Board voted 4-1 Wednesday, Oct. 13, to wed output from Clapper Roadwhich has been serving chiefly industrial customersto the rest of the town's water system, which uses water produced by the New Salem Water Treatment Plant and purchased from the City of Albany.

Town leaders said the decision is the best and least costly option to satisfy new water quality standards that will be imposed by the federal government in 2012.

The discussion over how to meet these requirements has been going on for weeks. Alternatives to increasing production at Clapper Road included renegotiating the contract to buy more water from the City of Albany or rebuilding the New Salem plant.

Councilman Mark Hennessey cast the sole dissenting vote, saying he'd like to wait until the next meeting of the board to vote to make sure there are no other concerns still out there. He noted only a public hearing was part of the meeting's agenda, not a vote.

"I don't think waiting two weeks for a decision that's going to affect the town for 20 years is too much to ask," Hennessey said.

But other members of the board praised the openness of the process so far. There have been three presentations on the matter at Town Board meetings, with opportunity for public comment included, and 12 members of the public who spoke during Wednesday's public hearing were overwhelmingly positive towards the plan.

"If there was significant public response raising additional issues against this, I would have waited," Supervisor Sam Messina said.

Councilman Mark Jordan noted the decision would play a role in the 2011 budget process. There's a public hearing on the budget at the next board meeting, Oct. 27.

"I don't see what we gain by putting this decision off," he said.

With authorization in hand, the Department of Public Works can take the relatively simple measures required to send water from Clapper Road into the rest of the town's water system. A date for the switch has not been set, as official said they must take some time to make sure the facilities are prepared for the changeover.""

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