Elbridge wages war on imaginary water bug

It's going to cost close to a million dollars for the Village of Elbridge to rid its water system of a pesky paramecium that is probably not even present.

The LT2 water treatment project, the federally mandated system moved a step closer to fruition Monday May 4.

The Elbridge Village Board completed the long-form SEQR evaluation at the regular board meeting, a process necessary to bring the project up to "shovel ready" status and better the chances of garnering federal stimulus money.

But, Mayor Hank Doerr pointed out, there's still a good chance the full cost of the project will fall on residents' shoulders.

The estimated project cost is around $922,000 and the plant must be operational by 2012.

Doerr said the village has already spent about $200,000 on obtaining land and commissioning design specs and preliminary engineering.

"The most frustrating thing about this is when the EPA did the rule, they based it on systems of 100,00 customers or more, and figured it would cost the average home owner $12 a year," Doerr said.

He added that only about 1,000 customers will have to bear the cost between the villages of Elbridge and Jordan and the handful of customers in the town. The municipalities hope to have an idea of the per-household impact by the end of the month and water customers will notice an LT2 item on their next bill - an attempt to soften the blow and build funds before the plant becomes operational.

On the bright side, though, the villages of Elbridge and Jordan have never worked together more closely, Doerr said.

What is LT2?

The Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule has been the point of much discussion among village and town officials the last few months but has yet to gain momentum in the physical sense. The mandate requires all public water systems that use surface water to take extra steps to rid the water of disease-causing organisms that are impervious to chlorination and other disinfectants.

The project will involve building an entirely new ultraviolet water treatment facility, the most cost-efficient of the options available to satisfy the unfunded federal mandate stemming from an incident at a Rochester water park in 2005, when thousands of people became ill after exposure to the paramecium Cryptosporidiosis.

Tackling the water treatment became the J-E community's problem when the city of Syracuse, whose water transmission lines the village of Elbridge taps into, developed a plan to satisfy the federal mandate by covering their own reservoirs, instead of addressing the issue at the source.

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