The following story first appeared in the Eagle Observer in 2009. The impact on the community was so great in that at year's end, we followed up to bring you the latest on the issue. Next week, look for updates on last year's biggest stories in Marcellus, and a roundup of noteworthy 2009 news.
Though the organism in question has not been found in the water, the town of Elbridge and villages of Elbridge and Jordan were required by federal mandate to filter public water drawn from Skaneateles Lake, an uncovered water source. The new LT2 ultraviolet filtration system would keep public water consumers safe from the paramecium Cryptosporidiosis, which sickened thousands of people in Rochester in 2005 but has not been traced to the J-E community.
Under the federal mandate, the municipalities must guard against the possibility of contamination, and the most cost-effective solution J-E leaders could come up with was still far from ideal. The filtration facility, which must be operational by 2012, will cost an estimated $922,000 -- or a $75,000 per day fine, if not working by then.
"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 last May.
He added that only about 1,000 customers would have to bear the cost between the villages and the handful of customers in the town. The municipalities introduced an "LT2" item on the fall water bills, a preemptive strike against the final cost, but still worried about the long-term impact on residents' wallets the project would cause.
Thankfully, the blow of the unfunded LT2 mandate was significantly softened by some local grants. The villages of Elbridge and Jordan each received $90,000 toward the project in community development grant money through Onondaga County. On Dec. 30, the State Department of State announced the project would receive a $600,000 grant to fund the project.
Doerr said that although the final construction costs of LT2 were only an estimate, the grant funding would go a long way towards helping the community build the facility.
"Now we'll just have to pay maintenance on it," Doerr added.