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What you need to know for 01/18/2018

Address Saratoga County water woes

Address Saratoga County water woes

One way or the other, contamination problem must be fixed

Saratoga County obviously has a problem on its hands regarding water, and needs to do something about it before more Water Authority customers decide to jump ship.

The Ballston Town Board voted to do so temporarily this week, for the second time in two years, after its water was found containing excessive levels of chlorine byproducts and lead. The villages of Stillwater and Round Lake have recently reported the same problem with the water they get from the county, and in Clifton Park the water has also tested high for those substances, though it reportedly meets federal safety standards.

The problem tends to occur mostly in fall, when the byproducts from chlorine water treatment react with elevated levels of organic matter found in the water at that time of year. And it only seems to be the customers farthest away from the county water treatment plant, on the upper Hudson River in Moreau, that have problems.

There’s a fix — installation of an aeration system — but smaller municipalities are understandably reluctant to bear the cost. For the county to install one for the whole system would cost $350,000. The village of Stillwater recently put one in and if it does the job, the county should either buy one for the whole system or agree to buy them for any municipalities that have problems.

The safety threat posed by elevated chlorine and lead isn’t immediate, but even long-term is not acceptable, especially since children and pregnant women are most vulnerable.

County water officials have reportedly been making progress with the problem, but it’s not enough. Not when the problem still crops up so regularly.

Anyone who uses authority water for drinking — its largest customer, indeed the authority’s raison d’etre, is GlobalFoundries, which uses it for industrial purposes — needs to be paying strict attention to water quality. And they should speak up immediately, or pursue different suppliers, if problems persist.

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