Glenville residents in the path of a slow-moving groundwater contamination plume won’t have to drink well water much longer.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Friday it will install a water line for about 112 homes in the area of a plume that continues to move south toward the Mohawk River.
The state Superfund will pay for the public water line, which will serve homes along Sunnyside Road and in the Sunnyside Gardens development. The project will cost an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million.
“DEC determined that extending the public water line is the most appropriate action to take to ensure the residents of the Sunnyside Gardens neighborhood have clean, safe drinking water,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release. “A new line is the most cost-effective option for the state to take as the contamination plume may continue to move.”
The contamination plume, discovered in 2006, originated at the former Kenco Chemical Co. hazardous waste site at 107 Freemans Bridge Road, a mile north of the Sunnyside Gardens development along Havenbrook Drive, off Sunnyside Road. Kenco handled swimming pool and dry cleaner chemicals at the site for about 40 years.
The plume was found to contain trichloroethene and known carcinogens tetrachloroethene and dichloroethene, and data from May 2011 to December 2013 show that the plume had spread as far south as Sunnyside Road.
While most residents in the vicinity of the contamination plume receive town water, the housing development has used private wells since it was built in the 1950s. Residents of the development petitioned this past spring to get on the town water system and urged the DEC to take action at a public meeting in Glenville.
Margie Miller, a resident of the development, was relieved to hear that the state would fund the project. She said many of her neighbors are retired and would not be able to afford to pay extra to hook up to town water. A 2002 study of a proposed water district in that area found that each household would have to pay between $500 and $700 if the town funded the work.
“To have the state step up with Superfund [money] was absolutely the right thing to do,” said Miller, 55. “Really, you can’t ask somebody who’s on fixed income to cough up that kind of money.”
She said she looks forward to having water that is safe to drink, and also to her property value increasing.
“And now we’ll have fire hydrants,” she added. “That’s going to reduce our insurance.”
Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the town has been working with the DEC for “quite some time” to find a solution for the residents.
“We’re thrilled with this decision,” he said. “It’s an important win for the residents of Glenville because it saves us a lot of money, but most importantly, it’s going to make sure that our residents have a safe and plentiful supply of water for generations to come.”
The plume has compromised the private wells of eight residences, which are all being provided either in-house water treatment systems or bottled water by the DEC, agency officials said. Koetzle said the contamination of those wells, which were tested by the state Department of Health, is below levels that would impact human health.
“The residents weren’t really in any significant danger,” he said. “This is really more about ensuring that there will be no future problems.”
Miller’s well was among those compromised, and she had a filter installed. She said she used to drink well water, but those days are behind her.
“I don’t drink the water anymore, I just don’t,” she said. “I don’t care how good that filter is.”
The town is required by state law to establish a water district for the new line. Koetzle said the Town Board could set a special meeting for early August and hold a public hearing, and could vote to create the district as early as its Wednesday, Aug. 13, meeting.
The town could also accept petitions from 51 percent of the would-be water district’s residents before moving forward, but that option would take longer, Koetzle said.
“We’re going to fast-track this,” he said.
Koetzle said the line could be installed next spring. In the interim, the DEC will continue to monitor wells that could become contaminated and will offer water filtration systems to affected residents.
As for cleaning up the contamination, the DEC is working on a feasibility study to examine a number of options. That study is expected to be finished by the end of summer, said Rick Georgeson, a DEC spokesman.
“Based on the results of the study, DEC will then select a preferred cleanup option,” he said. “We will keep the public informed of these steps throughout the entire cleanup process, and the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the draft cleanup option chosen.”
The decision to fund the water line represents an “interim remedial measure,” he said.
“We know properties have been impacted, and it’s a public health issue,” he said.