QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s been nearly a year and a half since the residents of the Jenkinsville neighborhood in the town of Queensbury found out that their drinking water was at risk of contamination. In March 2021, the community was told that the Department of Environmental Conservation found trace amounts of PFOAs and 1,4-dioxane in private wells in the neighborhood, after checking the state of one of the four garbage dumps north of the community.
As of March 2022, the one-year mark hit with 20 Jenkinsville homes still being told to only use bottled water for drinking and cooking. The DEC says that the PFOA and 1,4-dioxane levels found in some wells were all below the threshold for immediate alarm, and that the water has been given out of an abundance of caution.
That doesn’t change the fact that the community wants to be free of the issue. This week, the town of Queensbury released an update announcing progress from engineering firm C.T. Male Associates, which was brought on to find a more permanent solution to Jenkinsville’s water problem. According to the firm’s newly-released draft recommendations, the town’s best course of action is to extend its existing water systems to the beleaguered community from its current limits, several miles south.
C.T. Male’s draft study contains the results of an investigation into two options. One was to extend the town of Queensbury’s water system to reach Jenkinsville, where homes currently rely entirely on private wells. The other was to create an entirely new water well to serve the Jenkinsville area, including a new water main that would run approximately 20,000 feet – roughly 3.7 miles – around the neighborhood.
Either option would loop Jenkinsville’s 122 homes into a closed water system, as opposed to leaving individual homes to rely on wells. The water in those wells is believed to have become vulnerable to underground runoff from the Queensbury Landfill to the north. After over a year of study at four landfills that border the neighborhood, the DEC earlier this year said that extracted contaminant results pointed to the town landfill – and away from the Ciba-Geigy, Finch Paper, and McLaughlin landfills that neighbor it.
In order to find the best course of action, C.T. Male looked at flow capacity and water age, and how those factors would serve Jenkinsville. The firm’s findings: Extending the existing water system north works. Currently, the town water line reaches as far north as Haviland Road, bordering the north side of SUNY Adirondack and home to Hiland Park Country Club. From the corner of Haviland and Ridge Road, it takes around two and a half miles to get into Jenkinsville.
The cost of water
C.T. Male was brought on in part because it isn’t the firm’s first time looking into Queensbury water projects. The firm was hired to conduct a study of the same type in the 1990s. At the time, residents rejected the suggested project to expand the water line – which would have cost an estimated $3.7 million in 2000.
Today, C.T. Male says the estimated cost of extension would come in around $4.6 million. There are some variables – if the extension was performed without fire hydrant flow capabilities, the number would drop to an estimated $4.1 million. For comparison, the creation of a new Jenkinsville-central water system would cost in around $5.2 million.
The $4.6 million price tag breaks down into a lot of factors. Installation alone comes in at $726,750. Material costs come in over the $1 million line. Even after all construction subtotals are added up, there’s roughly $500,000 in engineering costs, and over $766,000 in contingency fees. See the breakdown in the full draft report below:
If the water line were to be extended, it’s likely that Jenkinsville residents would be required to switch to it and abandon their wells in order to make the project viable. C.T. Male notes in the draft study that it will be looking into grants and funding opportunities that could make that happen without costing neighborhood property owners an exorbitant amount.
C.T Male estimated that the construction process would take around two years from the approval of the work for bid. The town of Queensbury will hold a public information meeting on the study on Monday, Aug. 22. Engineers from C.T. Male will be onsite at the meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. for informal discussion, with a formal presentation starting at 7 p.m.