A thirst for answers

When Copenhagen’s primary water wells nearly went dry in 2016, officials got through the crisis by trucking in water to fill the town of Denmark water tower. Watertown Daily Times

In the summer of 2016, the village of Copenhagen found it had a serious problem with its water supply.

Conditions from a drought that gripped the region that year began to be felt, depleting two of its three wells on Stoddard Road in July. The third well went producing 300 gallons a minute to 55 gallons per minute. The 100-foot well had only 7 feet of water remaining.

This compelled the village to urge its residents to conserve water as much as possible. In late September, the town of Denmark issued an emergency order mandating that about 30 water users outside of Copenhagen restrict their usage from the village’s municipal system for the time being.

Officials opted to purchase water from the Carthage-West Carthage system as a temporary measure for $200 per truckload. This increased the level of water in one well from 4 feet to 50.

Three years later, Copenhagen has not developed a backup system for its water supply. The state Department of Health has given the village until Dec. 31 to come up with a workable plan.

“In the village’s board meeting on Sept. 24, Mayor Kenneth Clark told the board and members of the public present that he and local engineer Matthew Cooper of Barton & Loguidice met with officials at the Department of Health, USDA Rural Development and the village of West Carthage to discuss the three options Mr. Cooper believes are the most viable,” according to a story published Thursday by the Watertown Daily Times. “The three options floated, from the least to most expensive, are to rehabilitate the Woodbattle Road water plant that served Copenhagen before the current wells, use West Carthage’s former water supply near Fuller Road or to buy treated water from West Carthage if a water crisis occurs again.

Each of the three options [has] drawbacks, Mr. Cooper admitted, but he said it’s too early in the evaluation of the options to make a decision.

Trustee Kimberly Vogt said she is concerned about the water quality of both the Woodbattle Road and the Fuller Road water sources because they’ve both had serious issues in the past,” the Times story reported. “Mr. Cooper said it’s possible to pump water from the former West Carthage supply directly from Pleasant Lake before it goes underneath and around the farms from which it had been contaminated with manure in 1991 and 1992. However, Mrs. Vogt pointed out that Pleasant Lake residents blocked previous efforts to pull water directly from the lake. Additionally, West Carthage’s old primary source is now the backup supply for both West Carthage and Carthage.”

A special meeting was held Monday to clarify several issues and move this discussion forward.

It’s good that trustees are working to achieve a solution, but they’re far behind the curve.

In fact, the village received a $1 million grant in 2016 to create a backup for its water system. The village will be able to access these funds when an alternate water source has been substantiated.

It’s now three years later, and officials continue to debate how to proceed. What’s taking them so long?

Copenhagen is under a Dec. 31 deadline by the state Department of Health, and that doesn’t give authorities much time. They need to focus on this problem and come up with a practical solution.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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