The city is going forward this spring with a project to increase the Saratoga Springs water supply by 1.5 million gallons per day.
The planned Bog Meadow water project will spend an estimated $1.1 million to develop four new wells at the Bog Meadow reservoir east of the city and upgrade a pump station there.
The project will give the city a fifth water source and increase the “safe yield” of the city’s water supply to more than 9 million gallons per day. A backup generator also will be installed at the Excelsior Avenue water treatment plant as part of the project.
The city has been moving forward with the plan since 2011, under pressure from the state Health Department, which says growing demand means the city needs to be able to supply more water than it now can.
Work is expected to start this spring and be finished by fall.
Currently, the city water system has a maximum safe yield — the amount it can continuously supply even during a prolonged drought — of 7.8 million gallons per day. Average daily use in the busy summer tourism season is about 5.5 million gallons per day, but water usage has seen one-day peaks as high as 8.7 million gallons. Usage is expected to continue to increase.
“We’re starting to see a few days in the summer of peak demand above safe yield,” City Engineer Tim Wales told the City Council this week.
The number of days above the current safe yield will increase over the next 20 years because of residential and commercial growth, according to Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park, which has done a water supply study for the city.
The city’s water supply comes primarily from Loughberry Lake, supplemented by drilled wells in Geyser Crest, a small surface reservoir on Bog Meadow Brook and groundwater wells at Interlaken. The new wells would be installed on the Bog Meadow property, which includes about 70 acres off Ingersoll Road. The city’s consultants say there’s a high-yield aquifer under the site.
At this week’s City Council meeting, former city public works commissioner Thomas McTygue and his brother, William, former director of public works, criticized the Bog Meadow project as insufficient for the city’s future water needs.
The current safe yield number was developed years ago and doesn’t consider that neither Loughberry Lake nor the Geyser Crest well field produces as much water as they used to, William McTygue said.
While in office, the McTygue brothers supported a controversial $17 million plan for the city to start drawing water from Saratoga Lake, and they continue to do so.
“We were way ahead of the curve,” said Thomas McTygue.
The council approved a $1.1 million budget transfer to pay for the Bog Meadow project. The cost will be covered through city water rates, but it wasn’t clear Thursday what impact would be on rates.
“I think this is the right way to go, at least for the time-being,” said city Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.