During the recent repaving of Burr and Williams streets, village employees unearthed a three-foot segment of original wooden water line, which was placed there and used sometime prior to 1890. As much of the existing water lines in the village of Cazenovia were installed around the same time period, local officials have begun to plan for the future of the community’s infrastructure.
“Cazenovia is blessed with an abundant supply of excellent water,” said village Water and Sewer Trustee Peggy Van Arnam. “Unlike some parts of the country, we never think about our water. When we need it, we just turn on the faucet. Except for those who are charged with keeping them open and repaired, we also give little thought to the pipes that carry that water to our homes and businesses.”
According to Public Works Administrator Bill Carr, 85 percent of the village’s current water lines were originally installed between 1890 and 1898. Since then, wells have been drilled and storage tanks built to hold the water. New water lines have been added as development occurred, and some, but not all, of the original lines have been replaced.
The water line running down Albany Street was first installed in 1898 beside a dirt road — now it is under a state highway of concrete and pavement. Last year, there was a break in this line, and village officials said they cannot expect it to last forever. At an estimated cost of $50 per foot, the board acknowledged it will be extremely costly to replace the Albany Street line and other older lines in the village. Unfortunately, periodic water line breaks and repairs have become a regular fact of life for village staff.
At its April 2 meeting, the Cazenovia Village Board voted to establish a dedicated capital account to fund the replacement of old water lines throughout the village. Trustees said planning ahead will allow the village to be proactive, rather than suddenly be faced with huge bonding costs due to system failures in the future.
“I think it’s great the village board approved [the dedicated account], so we can get a jump on these old water lines that are used throughout the village.” Carr said. “This will help — as we re-do the streets, we’ll be able to put new lines in also.”
To begin the process of saving for these capital expenses, water users will be assessed a $25 infrastructure replacement fee every six months, along with the delivery charge for whatever amount of water they use. This fee will be reflected in the water bills mailed to residents in October 2012.
Compared to neighboring Onondaga County, the village of Cazenovia fee is approximately 50 percent of the base fee charged by the Onondaga County Water Authority. Building up a fund for this capital expense will allow the village to replace water lines gradually and without incurring further debt.
Another wooden water pipe had been uncovered by Stearns & Wheler in 1975, when the area sewage treatment plant was built in 1975. It is believed the hollowed-out section of tree trunk was used to feed the mill on Rt. 13.
These wooden water pipe samples, as well as some more modern samples, are now on exhibit at the Cazenovia Public Library for anyone interested in viewing them.
Questions about water lines, bills and plans can be directed to Carr or Van Arnam at 655-3041.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.