Phoenix will be looking to an outside supplier to provide clean drinking water to its residents.
Village officials had been considering three possible courses of action to address the quality of Phoenix’s drinking water., after tests done by both the county and state health departments showed that the village’s two drinking water wells are susceptible to ground water infiltration.
A 2013 village drinking water report states that those conditions leave the wells at a “medium-high susceptibility rating for pesticides, metals and nitrates due to the unconfined aquifer.” The wells were also given a “high-risk rating for petroleum products, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, cations/anions, halogenated solvents and other industrial organics due to nearby land use activities.”
Through both news and social media, some residents have been publicly calling for village officials to take action on the matter. They describe their water as murky “like chocolate milk,” and emitting chemical odors.
After the 2013 drinking water report was released, village officials say they began working to eliminate the voids in the ground that allow surface water to reach the wells. However, that course of action hasn’t yielded strong enough results.
The Oswego County Health Department gave the village until the end of October to settle on a different course of action, which could have included putting in completely new wells, implementing a filtration system designed to treat surface water, or tying into a different public water supplier.
Village Administrator Jim Lynch said Wednesday that the village board has settled on using an outside water provider.
“We can’t say anything has been finalized, but at the last meeting the board decided to move forward in choosing to hook into a different public water source,” Lynch said. “We’re currently looking at a couple options.”
Those options include the city of Fulton’s water system or the Metropolitan Water Board’s (MWB) service.
Lynch said village officials will be exploring the costs and benefits of each service, but he believes MWB will end up being the more cost efficient choice.
“We plan to be talking with the city of Fulton about a connection to their water source, but it would probably be more cost effective to hook up to Metropolitan since we already have a connection for them here in the village,” Lynch said.
Should the village ultimately decide to go with MWB’s service, it could take a year-and-a-half or so to begin actually providing that water to village residents.
“Right now, as we reported to the health department, we would be looking at spring 2016 for the final hookup,” Lynch said.
That time would be needed to pursue grants and loans for the project, design a pump station, put the project out for bid and have it completed. Lynch said the most time-consuming aspect of that would be lining up the money.
“The majority of that time is getting funding. The village isn’t just going to fund the whole project. We need to get grants or line up zero- or low-interest loans. Getting all that in place takes a lot of time,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the cost to build the facilities needed to tie into MWB’s service is estimated at $516,000. The village would then pay $185,000 per year to MWB for annual operating costs, in addition to the wholesale price of the water it purchases. Phoenix residents would continue to pay their water bills to the village, he said.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said be feels Phoenix officials have selected a good course of action.
“I think they’ve moved toward the right direction,” Huang said. “As the county health department, we are happy to see they have moved things forward in this way.”