Saratoga County

Halfmoon to get $635,000 settlement from EPA for clean drinking water

Clean water for the town of Halfmoon just became a little cheaper, thanks to an agreement reached wi

Clean water for the town of Halfmoon just became a little cheaper, thanks to an agreement reached with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA has agreed to pay $635,000 to the town to offset additional costs it incurred by getting drinking water from Troy. The town stopped using the Hudson River for drinking water in 2009, when dredging began, due to concerns about the water’s safety, and it then utilized a special water pipeline from Troy, which was built by General Electric and the EPA.

The $635,000 is a reimbursement for past expenses, with the EPA pledging to continue to offset the difference in costs between using the water from Troy and the less expensive Hudson River. GE and the EPA will both contribute to this expense.

“It was a long process. It was something we felt the community certainly deserved,” said Halfmoon Town Supervisor Mindy Wormuth. “The most important thing to me is that our residents have safe drinking water.”

Wormuth said town officials never considered going back to the Hudson River for cheaper drinking water, because they are still concerned about its safety. She said town officials had known this agreement was coming and factored it into their 2012 budget, but if something had gone wrong with this settlement there was money available to prevent an increase in water bills for town residents. For the last 90 days, Wormuth said they have been “crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s” on the final agreement.

Negotiations for the town have been led by the town attorney and David Engle, an outside environmental attorney who was brought in because of his background. Wormuth surmised that they were able to finally reach a conclusion on the negotiations because town officials began negotiating in person with EPA officials.

Wormuth and David King, director of the EPA’s Hudson River Field Office, both said that the two sides had always agreed on some sort of a settlement. “We were just working out details,” King said.

While the EPA has agreed to continue to pay to offset costs of Troy water for Halfmoon, that could change if they deem Hudson River water to be safe to drink.

“After the next year of dredging we’ll take a look at it,” King said. “At this point we’re just assuming we’re continuing on until we get better data.”

He added that the EPA is close to a similar deal with the town of Waterford, which also began utilizing the pipeline to Troy.

Waterford Town Supervisor John Lawler said he felt the deal with Halfmoon was a “positive indication” for Waterford’s ongoing negotiations. He stressed, though, that it had taken a long battle with the EPA just to get it to acknowledge that it should help offset the additional cost of water.

In 2002, the EPA ordered GE to pay for the estimated $780 million dredging of the upper Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy to remove sediment containing PCBs. GE capacitor plants discharged the potential carcinogens into the river for 30 years until the federal government banned the practice in 1977.

Before dredging began, Waterford, Halfmoon and Stillwater joined in a lawsuit to delay dredging until 2010, to give the EPA and GE time to find an alternative drinking water source for the three towns.

They later dropped their lawsuit. Halfmoon and Waterford began using water from Troy in May 2009 when GE began the preparations to dredge the river to remove contaminated sediment. The pipeline cost $8.2 million and was paid for jointly by the EPA and GE. Stillwater decided to add a filtration system and continue to use Hudson River water.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply