Mayor’s Corner 26 September 2011
Great water deserves great pipes
Clean, drinkable water is the most essential service that a municipality delivers.
The Village has over 2,300 water customers using about 400 million gallons of water per year. We are blessed with a sole source aquifer that supplies our wells from 40 to 60 feet underground deep below the Croton River.
Our well field lies in a zone officially protected from further development. Our Village staff responsible for our drinking water system is very knowledgeable, proactive, and extremely dedicated to providing clean, safe water.
But we all recognize that our water supply faces some challenges. As we experienced during the Tropical Storm Irene, our well field and the pump houses and related equipment are subject to flooding during periods of heavy rain. The Village’s water delivery system contains some poorly designed and ancient pipes.
Without a lot of fanfare, the Village has been working on improvements. Over the past decade, the Village has invested millions in replacing old water mains with new, properly sized mains, especially in the older section of the Harmon neighborhood between South Riverside Avenue and Cleveland Drive, and as well as other areas on our triage list.
Yet, we still have neighborhoods where aging pipes deliver rust colored water to homes on dead end branches of our water system. This rusty water is particularly prevalent in the warmer months and earlier in the day, after the water has sat still all night in the old pipes.
The only way that we can guarantee that the water coming out of your home’s tap is as clean and clear as the water we put into the pipe at other end is to replace the bad pipes.
Replacing old pipes is expensive, but necessary. And it is an effort from which the entire Village benefits. And it will be an effort that will pay off for the next fifty years or more.
We are preparing the necessary steps for a major well field and water delivery system upgrade. This work needs to be well designed and constructed so it will last decades after we pass from the scene.
Croton already has the best water in the county. We need to make sure we have the best water system in the county to deliver that water.
We know where the problems in our system are. In order to develop the best, long term, and tailored solution for each location, we need to develop a computer model of our actual system. That distribution model will let us test different solutions for a problem area and see how each affects the water flow and pressure on other streets. The good news is we are already working on that.
Once we identify a set of solutions–for example, of pipe diameters and new trench locations–for the problem streets, we need to work up those potential solutions into a package that is detailed enough to yield realistic construction cost estimates. The funding landscape has eroded dramatically in the past year or two, since we funded our most recent water project for High Street.
So we will need to be even more precise and detailed in our applications to secure favorable funding terms than we ever were before.
On top of any work on old pipes under our streets, the Village is being required to raise all the critical equipment in our well field by over ten feet–from ground or river level essentially to the equivalent of a second story. FEMA redrew the 100-year storm flood plain map recently, so it now includes all our wells. The federal government requires us to improve our water system infrastructure to meet the 100-year storm level for future floods.
Since, 100-year storm floods have happened here twice now within the past ten years, lifting our pumps, filter, valves, and monitoring gauges up “one floor” makes sense. But, again, doing so is going to be expensive. We’ll have to build a very large mound on top of which to mount the critical gear. Again, this is yet another unfunded mandate.
The good news is that we have a fiscally robust water fund while interest rates for borrowing to fund this kind of work are at historic lows. Here’s to new and better pipes to match our terrific water!
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