For more than four years, the village of Copenhagen has wrestled with how to resolve its problem with maintaining an adequate supply of water.

The issue surfaced in the summer of 2016. 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 from 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.

Copenhagen continues to run into problems. The village Board of Trustees declared a state of emergency Sept. 22 due to a shortage of water; the declaration will expire Oct. 21. This follows a notice of water conservation issued Sept. 10 by the village.

Last year, the state Department of Health ordered Copenhagen to develop a plan for a backup water source by Dec. 31. Local ngineer Matthew Cooper of the consulting firm of Barton & Loguidice in Watertown said “an engineering report has been submitted to the DOH and funding sources have been explored to rehabilitate the decommissioned wells off Woodbattle Road, which have been offline since 2011 when the Stoddard Road plant was put into use. In 2010, Copenhagen completed a $3 million project that developed three wells off Stoddard Road in the town of Denmark and upgraded water lines,” according to a story published Sept. 22 by the Watertown Daily Times.

So the village has submitted a proposal to the DOH, which is indeed good news. But it missed last year’s deadline — and this isn’t the first time that it’s fallen behind the curve.

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.

Last week, Mr. Cooper said “the village is falling behind in water production and by week’s end will more than likely have to begin hauling water from Carthage,” according to a story published Sept. 28 by the Times. “Mr. Cooper said on Monday that the well off Stoddard Road was still pumping and the system was still running but was falling behind.”

We appreciate that the novel coronavirus pandemic has made municipal functions difficult to carry out. Safety protocols have made it necessary to work out new procedures for officials to meet with each other and their constituents. And budgets have become even more strained with tax revenues declining, complicating efforts to undertake important projects.

It’s welcome news that a plan for a backup water source has been developed, so we’re hopeful that Copenhagen will resolve this issue as soon. Residents deserve access to a sufficient supply of clean water, and having a proposal approved and implemented will ensure this going forward.

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