TUPPER LAKE - A potential site for groundwater has been found near Pitchfork Pond.
The village hired HydroSource Associates Inc. last summer to identify and test several potential high-yield water source sites: Pitchfork Pond on Kildare Road, Underwood Road and Glenwood Avenue. Each site was thought to have favorable conditions for becoming a high-yield groundwater source.
Tom Burley, director of C2AE capital consultants architecture and engineering firm, told the village board Monday that HydroSource Associates drilled two test wells on the Lyme Adirondack Timberland property, near Pitchfork Pond.
"The first one we drilled came in at approximately 500,000 gallons per day capacity," Burley said. "Based on work, HydroSource really felt there was potentially a deeper location. They moved to a second location, which had more coarse gravel to draw from. Their belief is that, when developed, that targeted site would be more in the one million gallons per day range."
Burley said HydroSource engineers were tempted to drill a third test site, but they felt it was more prudent to get the water quality testing done on the two wells before moving forward. He said the water there passed smell and taste tests, so the next step is to perform a chemical analysis.
If the water quality comes back good, HydroSource would search for a better production site just east of the northernmost section of Pitchfork Pond.
"We wanted to get a site closer to the village, but this is the one that bore out," Burley said. "To get one million (gallons per day) flow, and it's up in an area that's kind of pristine, that's not a bad thing."
The decision to find a new water source came after water quality assessments conducted by the state Department of Health determined the village is over the safe zone for disinfectant by-products.
The village of Tupper Lake currently gets its water from two sources: Tupper Lake and Simond Pond. Water from those sources contains tannins - naturally occurring plant polyphenols that can leach from submerged vegetation, often turning the water a tea color.
Alone, tannins are not considered problematic, but when tannin-containing water is treated with chlorine, new compounds are formed.
In Tupper Lake, those by-products have been trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Kevin Scheuer, a public safety engineer with the Saranac Lake district office of the state Health Department, told the Enterprise in July that the water is still safe to drink, but he added that the department of health believes long-term exposure to the by-products could cause side effects.
The Tupper Lake treatment plant, built in 1951, wasn't designed to handle new regulations. To meet present-day state water quality standards with its existing water source, the village would have to build a new water treatment plant, which could cost $8 million.
The village has until July 2015 to fix the problem.
After digging two wells near the sewage treatment plant revealed the water there was loaded with iron, the village decided to look elsewhere. To begin drilling the test wells, the village borrowed $300,000 at a 2 percent interest rate through a bond anticipation note.
Once a site is chosen, a chemical feed pump and a pump to draw water out of the well must be constructed. Since the water is pulled from the ground, tannins are not an issue in the chlorinating process.
There will be a transitionary period before the village goes to the groundwater system.
"We're not talking about abolishing any of the plants we have now, in case this doesn't bear out," village Mayor Paul Maroun said. "If this does work out, this is going to be a reverse flow source. Right now, the water flows down. With this, it's going to flow from the Junction uptown, so it'll be a little bit different.
Until the new source is completely online, the two water sources will be mixed and the old one will be phased out over time. Burley said customers might notice a change in water quality while that happens.
"When we reverse the flow, there is the potential for some discoloration," Burley said. "The surface water chemistry might be a little softer, and I would expect the groundwater here might be a little harder. It's not going to be unpalatable by any means, but it is going to be different."