As of Tuesday afternoon, 25 homes in Waterford were without water.
“We’ve got a difficult situation on our hands,” said Waterford town Supervisor John Lawler, referring to the water shortage in Waterford and the neighboring town of Halfmoon at a press conference Tuesday at the Waterford Town Hall on Broad Street.
The two Saratoga County towns declared a state of emergency after their water supply was jeopardized by a water main break in Troy on Sunday. A secondary backup connection with Troy failed, creating a water shortage for both towns. Halfmoon and Waterford residents have been advised to conserve water until the necessary repairs are made.
Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District, St. Mary’s School in Waterford and Mechanicville City School District all closed Tuesday. Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School Superintendent Patrick Pomerville announced Tuesday that school will be closed today, as well. Pomerville noted that sports away games scheduled for today will still be held.
Waterford, which typically brings in 1.5 million gallons of water a day, is now bringing in only 250,000-300,000 gallons of water, according to Lawler, including an emergency supply from Cohoes. The secondary connection is bringing in just a third of what it should be supplying the two towns, he said. “So, what’s happened is, that one third of the water is coming in. We’re also sharing that with the town of Halfmoon. The amount of water coming into the town has been drastically reduced.”
Lawler noted that the town’s decreased water supply and decreased water pressure could create problems in regards to fire-fighting.
He thanked the village of Waterford and the Halfmoon-Waterford Fire Department for instituting a countywide emergency management plan — a plan he credits for making sure there is water available for fire protection.
“We also have some support from the Rensselaer County emergency plan folks who are making additional water tankers available to us if we need them for fire fighting purposes,” he said.
“We feel comfortable that we are going to be able to maintain adequate fire protection,” he said.
Several streets in Waterford, including Clifton Street and Saratoga Avenue, have been closed in order to create an above-ground emergency water supply connection with Cohoes.
Citing aging infrastructure, Lawler said, “Water main breaks in the Northeast are a fact of life.”
Halfmoon Town Supervisor Kevin Tollisen said, “I’ve been told the pipe [which ruptured] is approximately 100 years old.”
On the advice of the Department of Health, Lawler advised Waterford residents to boil water before consumption. The supervisor added “interruptions” in residents’ access to water access may occur.
Halfmoon’s supervisor said water is safe to drink but recommends using bottled water for conservation. A tanker truck with potable water and bottled water was available at the Town of Halfmoon Highway Department, located at 322 Route 146, beginning mid-morning Tuesday for Halfmoon residents.
Bottled water is available to Waterford residents at the Peck Hose Fire Department on Saratoga Avenue and at the Waterford Rescue Squad.
Full repairs are expected by Friday at the earliest.
Heavy water consumers in Waterford and Halfmoon such as Momentive have dramatically reduced their water usage, according to Lawler, while others have closed up shop to conserve water until repairs are made.
Tom Hoffman Jr., CEO of Hoffman Carwash, laughed, saying “What water main break?” when asked how the rupture in Troy impacted business at the company’s Halfmoon location.
“The town of Halfmoon is having an emergency so we did have to close our car wash,” said Hoffman on Tuesday. “We’re expecting to be open tomorrow morning because we are having tanker trucks full of water coming to the Halfmoon location.”
Hoffman has hired two companies, Alpin Haus in Amsterdam and another company in Queensbury, to bring tractor trailers full of water to the car wash. He said each tractor trailer holds approximately 7,500 gallons of water per load. “We can operate approximately three to four hours per load,” he said.
How bad will the water-shortage hurt Hoffman’s wallet? “Not so bad,” he said. “I was quoted a price of $400 per load plus the price of the driver sitting there for awhile. It’s probably going to cost us $3,000 or $4,000 a day if I had to guess.”
Hoffman expects the repairs will be made before Friday. “They’re trying to underpromise and overdeliver,” he said.
Mike Lynch, a salesman at Kivort Steel Inc. in Waterford said the water main break “hasn’t really affected us. We don’t use a lot of water — just for bathrooms.”
No one from the Halfmoon Laundromat located on Route 9 in Clifton Park was available for comment Jan. 19, although the laundromat’s ring-back tone sings, “There must have been something in the water.”
Both Waterford and Halfmoon used to rely on a local water treatment plant on the Hudson River, but were forced to abandon the local water supply due to high PCB levels and other contaminants in the water. Tollisen said Halfmoon once tried to switch back to the water plant but reconsidered doing so after learning of a spike in PCB levels.