K&J SHOW – 07/10/12 – Saranac Lake’s Water Project (Part 1)

 071012 – K&J – Water Project Expose’ Part 1

When you think about waste water treatment plants, the first thing you might imagine is what goes into the plant – and our imaginations will usually get a little creative when we consider what a facility like this might actually look and feel like.. but the reality is that when you drive over the recently constructed Bridge to the sewer plant, you’ll find a physical plant that is so well cared for it wins accolades fromNew YorkState’s Department of Environmental Conservation. It’s clean, and on the day of our visit there is no odor to speak of, it’s a very hot Friday afternoon and the sprinklers are keeping the grass green enough to make the best landscapers jealous and all of the Village Plant Operator’s Trucks along with the Village Vehicles are parked in what you might consider a well thought out line along the driveway just across from the control building.

Kevin Pratt at the Treatment Plant

The parking plan, although nothing had been marked, was so obvious, I was compelled to park right in the line at the end of the vehicles for fear I might upset the status quo in the facility..  The bottom line is thatSaranacLake’s Wastewater Treatment facilities are cleaner and perhaps more sanitary than the bathroom in my house and they’ve made that fact clear before the tour even begins.  It’s at this point that we begin looking for Kevin Pratt, who is the highest ranking operator at the plant…  but before we begin the tour, let’s take a few steps back and head over to the town hall… Upstairs in the Villages Offices, Community Development Director Jeremy Evans sums up the project’s completion…

Jeremy Evans, Village of Saranac Lake Community Development Director

Jeremy says one good benefit of the project includes a solution to the overall safety and welfare of the residents with the addition of the 2nd water tank. There’s an increase in the stability of water pressure and capacity, solving a long standing issue that they were able to solve as part of this project..   Most of us can’t actually remember whether the original test failure which precipitated the $12.5 Million expense was the result of a thousandth of a percentage point, or 1 particle per billion over the acceptable level in two consecutive tests mind you..  but most will agree that the water in McKensie Pond served the needs of village residents well (forgive the pun, now it’s actually 2 wells) for 100 years and arguably may have been able to handle the water supply for another century, but when you put the expense in perspective, Evan’s tells us, there may be a silver lining in all of this that most of us might no be able to see…

The Village of Saranac Lake is ahead of schedule, and came with enough windfall to re-pave the roads which had been so badly torn up by the Water Project. That being said, most residents won’t notice the magnitude of the work underneath the pavement, but rather only that the road is now newly paved, marking the end of construction. The Two wells are installed; Huge pipes lead into the pump house where walls of electronic components designed to manage everything from chlorine injection, to water flow and so many more measurements by the computers that it would be difficult for a full time staff of 4 to keep similar records without the aid of the computers. Needless to say, for $12.5 million, the Village of Saranac Lake has definitely gotten its money’s worth.

That’s Village Manager John Sweeney looking back at the overall project at it’s roots.. I said there seem to be many ways like that the village is looking to save taxpayer money and pointed to Kevin Pratt, who is now running the whole shebang. John tells me a story about a little roto tiller that scrapes 5 tons off the weight of every truckload going to the dump.. 

Now, remember we were looking for Kevin at the Wastewater Plant.. Kevin had scheduled the tour a few days earlier while out inspecting a paving project in the village. The control building is sort of double sided with the huge generator on one side, and what could pass for a front entrance on the other, I went in the wrong side and was again, immediately impressed with the care given to the facility and it’s upkeep..  and once we were able to connect, the tour begins with a look at what else? Where the wastewater enters the plant…. 

As we head downstairs in the control building we’re going to take a break… We kick off part two of our expose on the Water Treatment Plant with the Primary Effluent Pumps – and from their we’ll explore the balance of the water treatment plant – and head down the road on the property to the new Water Wells – The Village of Saranac Lake Water Project, now within a month of completion..  our expose continues in just a few days here on the K&J show..

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