September 3, 2008: Needed repairs for Fleischmanns

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To The Editor:
I want to take the opportunity to respond to a recent letter to the editor regarding the Village of Fleischmanns water system. The village board has embarked upon a $3 million improvement project and we want to make sure that our residents are aware of the actual facts regarding this much needed project.
In 2004, New York State Department of Health representatives advised the village that the existing water system should be upgraded. Parts of the supply, storage, treatment and distribution components of the system are 100 years old and they need repair and replacement.
In response, the village board successfully secured a 1.3 million dollar grant and a 1.7 million dollar interest free loan to improve the village’s water system. This financial package had historically been rejected by the NYSEFC, the state regulatory agency which provides funding, but working diligently with our engineers we were eventually successful.
Although New York State makes this hardship funding available to municipalities it only provides the grant funds if the residents of the community pay a yearly fee for water which is appropriate for the medium household income of the residents in the village. In other words, village residents will be assisted by New York State, but only if we all pay a minimum amount for water. New York State will, in effect, subsidize any of the capital improvements which would cause our residents to pay too much for water.
Using the 2000 census results the NYSEFC determined that the average water user in Fleischmanns would have to pay $299 per year for water if the village desired the grant funds. This does not seem to be an unreasonable fee for a safe, productive water supply.
With respect to a new water storage tank, New York State Department of Health and NYSEFC engineers both agree with our own engineers that the existing village water system is extremely vulnerable. We only have one storage tank and it is located on the east end of the village. Both state agencies agree, and recommend, that we build another storage tank on the west end of the village.
Two water storage tanks give us more water capacity for fire fighting and increases our supply in the event of a waterline break or temporary problem with our groundwater wells. The new water storage tank does not replace groundwater wells as some have assumed. Rather, it gives us redundancy and makes our water supply safer.
We have already dramatically improved the springs which supply much of our drinking water as well as the old reservoir on the east end of the village. The village board is committed to providing a safe, reliable, efficient water system to our residents. We are doing the best that we can in all these respects.

Mary Kathleen Wilber and Board of Trustees
Fleischmanns