Spotlight tours water facilities

Much of Bethlehem's water goes through two treatment plats one new, one aged

Public meeting on water system tonight

The Town of Bethlehem has a choice ahead of it. It's a choice that has been put off for years and will have at least some impact on every residence, business and person in the town. And it needs to be made now.

Town Hall watchers already know this decision has to do with the future of the town's water system. No matter what is done, the way the people of Bethlehem get their water will change. In an effort to get a complete picture of where the town stands now when it comes to water production, The Spotlight recently toured the town's water treatment and supply facilities along with staff from the Department of Public Works and saw firsthand the hydra that is the Water Department.

The town has a diverse portfolio of water supplies. Besides purchasing finished water from the City of Albany, Bethlehem draws its water from three sources: the New Salem Wellfield in New Scotland, the Vly Creek Reservoir outside the New Salem Water Treatment Plant and an aquifer that feeds the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant in Selkirk.

Well water drawn from the New Salem wells does not need treatment. It is chlorinated and sent out to customers, making it by far the cheapest water source for the town. Due to the size of the wells, it's also limited in its output, though, meaning most of the town's drinking water comes through the New Salem plant.

Conversely, water from the Clapper Road plant goes to industrial users and only a handful of residences and businesses. It operates well below full capacity because of this.

Despite using similar processes to treat water, the two plants could not be less alike. New Salem was built in 1958 and expanded in the 1972, while Clapper Road was built in 1994. It's a difference that shows.

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