Latest meeting leads to approvals, agreements
Updates relating to the village water issues came fast and furious Monday night. Village officials say they are pleased with the results of Monday afternoon’s meeting with the state Department of Health.
Mayor Jay Niles said representatives from the village, health department and Kirsten Gillibrand’s office met in Warrensburg with a representative from the environmental finance commission, Jason Denno, acting as facilitator.
“It was a very productive meeting, a good meeting, everyone was there, and all sides were represented,” Niles said.
The meeting put everyone on the ‘same page,’ he said. The meeting was arranged to help clear the air between the village and the health department to help move the water treatment plant project forward.
The health department, he said, will accept the engineering report from the village after minor changes, allowing the project to move forward.
Receiving tentative approval at the meeting was a temporary cartridge filtration system for the current water system which, when completed, should eliminate the need for further violation notices by complying with the health department’s surface water rule.
The system could be installed in about 90 days, Niles said.
The plan included designing the filtration system to allow it to be integrated into the new treatment plant, a move which would allow the village to recoup funds spent on the system now, when funding is secured later.
As far as the violation notices, Niles said he showed the health department the last Sentinel and after some discussion, he said they accepted the newspaper article as sufficient notification of the public.
“We were pleased with that outcome, that we’ve already notified our public,” he said.
Also discussed during the 2-plus hour meeting was financing for the project. Niles said the village and engineering firm Lamont have been encouraged to have the project ‘shovel-ready’ by the time president-elect Barack Obama’s administration assumes leadership. Funding is anticipated for infrastructure projects which are ready to be executed, but lack funding.
“We will be ready, when that funding comes out everything will be ready,” Niles said. “If we’re in place then we’ll be considered for funding,” he said.
Prior to the meeting, New York State Department of Health public affairs program manager Beth Goldberg said the reason the village has been ordered to begin posting or publishing a quarterly warning about the water is Granville is simply because the potential exists for a problem to occur.
“There may be negative health effects for at-risk populations such as children, the elderly and immunocompromised persons such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The public has the right to know what may be in their drinking water to allow them to make educated choices about their health,” she said.
Those risks are associated with water systems which have been declared GWUDI by the health department as the village water source was in 2007.
“GWUDI stands for Groundwater Under the Direct Influence of surface water. Drinking water sources that are determined to be GWUDI exhibit certain characteristics of surface water such as the presence of algae, chlorophyll (containing plant matter); variations of water temperatures or microorganisms. A GWUDI well may be within close proximity of a surface water body such as a river. The Village of Granville’s source is in close proximity to the Mettowee River,” Goldberg said.
Niles said he has no issue with posting the notice, but felt the notice the health department gave the village to post could alarm residents.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Goldberg told the Sentinel that the village had run out of time to comply with the health department surface water rule and must now post the violation notice.
“They have reached the end of the 18-month period and are out of compliance with the SWTR (Surface Water Treatment Rule (5-1.30 (b)),” Goldberg said.
The village had three options for compliance with the surface water rule: find another water source, treat the water or purchase water from an approved source until the can comply with the rule.
The village examined the options and chose to develop a new source by building a water treatment plant for new wells at the same site already in use.
Failure to comply with the surface water rule, with the health department deadline, resulted in the requirement to post the notice, Goldberg said.
Goldberg said the only penalty at this time would be the posting of the notice, but a fine could result if the village fails to comply with the agreed upon deadline for completion of the water treatment plant in 2010.
“There is no fine if they meet the 2010 deadline. If they do not, we can extend the deadline. If we agree to extend it, there will be no fine,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg said the notice the health department requires when a municipality comes into violation of the surface water rule is a standard.
“The notices that we distribute are based on notices provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the Public Notification Handbook,” she said.
“As stated in the Public Notification Handbook, we provide each water system with a copy of our standard notification, and they are permitted to make modifications provided the mandatory health effects language is in the notice,” she said.