Massena gets $27K grant for water study

The Massena skyline in 2017. The town of Massena has been awarded a $27,000 federal grant for a pre-engineering study that will lead to expanded municipal water lines. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A $27,000 grant will help fund a pre-engineering study to provide potable municipal water to areas around the town of Massena, outside of the village, that do not currently have water service.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced the town’s receipt of a Water and Waste Disposal Predevelopment Planning Grant, which is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.

Massena’s funding will determine the various options and alternatives for improving the public water system serving the town of Massena. The pre-engineering study will be done by the engineering firm of Barton and Loguidice.

The town will use the preliminary engineering report to identify alternatives and solicit funding for improvement projects that enable them to meet current and anticipated Department of Health regulations and improve the water system to protect the health and safety of residents. Approximately 1,947 individuals are included in the study area.

Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said the town is particularly looking to bring water to South Raquette River Road, the former General Motors site and possibly Massena Center.

“That study is paid for by grants,” he said.

The grant will cover $27,000 of the estimated $36,000 cost, with the town responsible for the additional $9,000.

“This federal funding will make critical investments into New York’s rural communities — expanding access to reliable internet, helping ensure the safety of public water systems, and providing local businesses and agricultural producers with the technical assistance they need to thrive,” Sen. Gillibrand said in a statement. “I will continue fighting for funding that improves infrastructure, closes the digital divide and enhances economic opportunity in our rural communities.”

Meanwhile, town officials continue to plan for the East Massena Consolidated Water District, which was put on hold over the summer because materials needed for the project were either unavailable or more expensive than what had been budgeted.

One material that’s difficult to find is copper for the laterals intended to replace damaged lines leading to houses. Mr. O’Shaughnessy said the town would not be able to get those materials until late fall, the end of the construction season.

Bids also came in over budget.

Town officials had agreed in January to move forward with replacing deteriorated water main lines, a project in discussion since 2017. Following a public hearing in January, board members adopted a resolution to authorize the preparation of plans, specifications and estimates of contracts and bid work for the project.

Members also approved a resolution to adopt a serial bond and bond anticipation note. The project is estimated at no more than $4 million, and the estimated cost to the average residential user in the district will be an additional $433.62 per year. The project covers deteriorating water lines in the vicinity of Raquette, Haverstock, Trippany and Smith roads and Route 131 near the former Walmart and Aldi site in the town of Massena.

A March 2019 preliminary engineering report that was revised in August of that year, had been prepared by Aaron B. Jarvis of Tisdale Associates. Based on that report, the work will include the replacement of approximately 28,700 linear feet of ductile iron pipe, inline water valves, fire hydrant assemblies, corporation and curb stops, copper service lines and appurtenances, including roadway, lawn and sidewalk repairs associated with the replacement work.

The discussion about replacing the water line dates back to 2017. Officials in 2017 said that they intended to address the issue, but couldn’t until funding became available. The project had not been funded through two rounds of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

But the problem dates back further. The original plans to replace the water lines had been approved in 1999 and work was done in 2000 and 2001. However, town officials said, work wasn’t done correctly in the first place and the line deteriorated after 10 to 12 years, when it should have lasted 40 years or longer. Because of the amount of time elapsed since it was done, the statute of limitations to take action against the contractor had expired.

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