Officials in the Town of Ballston are saying "no" to the Saratoga County Water Authority and are now relying on the neighboring Town of Glenville. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, the change centers on concerns about public safety.
BALLSTON, N.Y. – As of Wednesday morning, the pumps were turned off and the Town of Ballston was no longer a customer of the Saratoga County Water Authority.
"I'm very concerned,” said Ballston Town Supervisor Patti Southworth, who was unable to attend Tuesday night’s board meeting when the decision was made. “The reason I recommended shutting off the water supply at this time is because of the potential health risk to our residents."
According to Southworth, the water has tested positive for higher than recommended levels of chlorine byproducts, which are created when chlorine mixes with organic materials like plants already in the water. While the issue first presented itself in 2011, Southworth says the water is also testing positive for lead and copper for the first time.
"[That] can cause significant, as we know, brain damage and neurological damage, especially in young children and developing fetuses," said Southworth, who worked as a pharmacist before becoming supervisor six years ago.
Because their source is the Hudson River, Water Authority Chairman John Lawler says the water is more susceptible to chlorine byproducts, an issue he says is magnified because Ballston is 32 miles from the plant. He believes there's currently no threat to public health.
"I think the Department of Health would agree with us that the water is certainly safe to drink,” said Lawler, who’s also the Town of Waterford’s supervisor. “However, if Ballston continues to move away or discontinue using the water, that's their decision to make."
Lawler says one possible solution is for the Town of Ballston to follow the lead of Stillwater and Burnt Hills and install a $10,000 aeration system in their tanks to counteract the problem. Southworth says that's an expense the town shouldn't have to make.
"The results of that appear to be very successful in dealing with the problem," said Lawler, who added a similar system is being installed at Luther Forrest, where GlobalFoundries sits as the Water Authority’s biggest customer.
"It seems to me that the Water Authority needs to solve the problem before the water enters the town of Ballston," Southworth said.
In the meantime, the town is receiving its daily 150,000 gallons from neighboring Glenville, which charges an extra 25 cents per gallon. According to Lawler, Ballston paid the Water Authority $2.10 per gallon.
Southworth says they have no intention of going back until the levels come back down.
"Until they can prove to us they're giving us water that's safe for our residents, we will not be inclined to turn it back on," Southworth said.
According to Lawler, the Water Authority is moving forward with a $1.5 million outflow project that's designed to lower chlorine byproduct levels by removing organic materials before the water is treated. The Water Authority has received a $1 million low interest loan and a $500,000 grant from the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency to cover the cost. Work is expected to begin early next year.