Rotterdam seeking engineering firm to oversee water infrastructure improvements

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FILE - Rotterdam Supervisor Mollie Collins

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ROTTERDAM — A more-than-$30 million water infrastructure improvement project is inching closer to breaking ground.

The town is currently seeking an engineering firm to oversee the project that includes digging a new well, replacing dozens of broken and outdated valves and installing over 17,000 linear feet of new pipe throughout Water District No. 5.

Lawmakers are expected to select a firm in May. A bulk of construction should be completed by 2027, according to project plans.

Supervisor Mollie Collins said the project is necessary to address longstanding problems with the town’s water infrastructure, which has been prone to breaks that have resulted in disrupted service and boil-water-advisories for residents and have caused traffic delays as crews work to make the costly repairs.

“Even though I realize it’s an expense for our town residents, I think that it’s very necessary,” she said. “It’s been kicked down the road for too many years.”

Lawmakers approved $34 million in borrowing to fund the project last year, sparking concerns among some residents who have questioned why the town is moving forward with the project at a time of high inflation and global supply chain issues that have driven up costs.

A final cost to the more than 10,000 households throughout Water District No. 5 has yet to be determined, though an estimate unveiled last year projected water rates would rise to $316, more than double the current rate of $134.

The town is hoping to secure a $5 million water infrastructure improvement grant to help offset the costs, which would bring the new rate down to $295, according to preliminary estimates.

An application submitted by the town was denied last year, but Collins said the plan is to apply for funding again this year. She added that the town is also looking into a number of federal grants to help pay for the project.

Taxpayers should notice a change once the town finalizes bonding and puts the project out to bid, a move that could happen as soon as next year.

“We apply for any and all grants that are out there,” Collins said.

Plans for the project call for digging a new well to replace an original 1950s-era well that has reached the end of its lifespan. Work would also include replacing 32 shutoff valves that no longer work and installing 32 new fire hydrants.

In addition, the town will be installing a 30-inch pipe that will replace an existing 20-inch transmission main that runs from the Rice Road well field along West Campbell Road, Burdeck Street and North Thompson Street.

Several workaround loops will also be installed around transmission lines in town to ensure water can still get to eastern portions of town in the event of a water main break.

“All of those things I think are really important to the residents of Rotterdam in keeping them safe, making sure we have fire protection and they have clean, drinkable water,” Collins said. “I’m looking forward to it. As much as I’m not looking forward to an increase in our taxes, I am looking forward to knowing that our water system is in a stronger position.”

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: News, News, Rotterdam, Schenectady County

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