Categories: Schenectady County
A new pipeline is being designed to connect Halfmoon and Waterford to the Troy water supply for use in the event of PCB contamination during the Hudson River dredging project, officials said Thursday.
Halfmoon and Waterford officials have pushed for the alternative water source for the past two years.
“In good faith, we have already started the design work,” said David King, director of the EPA’s Hudson River Field Office.
Both Saratoga County towns take their drinking water from the Hudson River.
For two years, the towns have urged the federal government to provide a safe alternate water source in the event toxic PCBs are resuspended in the river during the river dredging project.
King said Thursday that negotiations on the alternate water source continue among General Electric Co., the Environmental Protection Agency and representatives of Halfmoon and Waterford.
The pipeline would go from the city of Troy’s water source under the Hudson River and connect with the water filtration and treatment plants in Waterford and Halfmoon.
The necessary engineering and archaeological work is under way because “we want to get it ready to roll so it doesn’t hold up the [dredging] project,” King said.
Such a pipeline, large enough to provide a reliable water source for 30,000 people, has been estimated to cost in the $10 million range.
The massive environmental cleanup of PCBs from the upper Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy is scheduled to start in the spring of 2009.
The dredging will be conducted in two phases. The first phase, in 2009, will be in the Moreau and Fort Edward area of the river, well north of Waterford.
The second phase of the project, possibly starting in 2010, will include some dredging closer to Waterford and Halfmoon and all the way south to Troy.
Waterford Supervisor John Lawler said Thursday he’s pleased engineering design work has started on the new water line. Lawler said it would only take four hours for the resuspended PCBs to make their way downriver to his water intakes from even some northern dredge locations. But, he said, water testing takes 24 hours to determine contamination.
Lawler said he is very concerned that EPA officials say water would flow through the new pipeline only if it is determined that Waterford and Halfmoon drinking water is unsafe.
Lawler said he was told water would flow only “if and when” the EPA determined the Hudson River water is unsafe because of PCB resuspension.
“It was a long battle, a nearly three-year battle,” Lawler said about the alternate water source. “The battle is not over.”
Lawler said he would like to have the treated Troy water flowing in the pipeline before dredging starts in what is described as the largest environmental cleanup project in the nation’s history.
In addition to paying for the pipeline construction, Lawler wants GE and the EPA to pay the difference between what water currently costs in Waterford and Halfmoon and what residents would pay if connected to the more expensive Troy water.
“Our people should not be expected to pay the increase,” Lawler said.
Mark Behan, a GE spokesman, said General Electric has been working closely with the EPA on the alternate water source.
“We want to make sure the [dredging] project can be conducted in a way that protects public health,” Behan said.
“We are on the same page as the EPA on this,” Behan said.
Halfmoon Supervisor Mindy Wormuth said Thursday she also wants to make sure that “before anything gets dredged” her town has a safe alternate water source available.
“Timing is very important,” Wormuth said.
“I’m pleased the EPA is moving forward to meet our needs,” she said.
The EPA in 2002 ordered GE to pay for the estimated $700 million environmental dredging of the upper Hudson to remove PCBs that GE plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward discharged into the river for 30 years, ending in 1977 when the practice was banned.
The EPA describes PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, as a probable carcinogen that also causes other health problems in humans and wildlife.
GE used the PCBs in the manufacture of capacitors.