Plattsburgh tackles $10M in water main emergency fixes

A $10 million Plattsburgh watermain project is underway.
A $10 million Plattsburgh watermain project is underway.(WCAX)
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 4:37 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - Plattsburgh is moving ahead with $10 million in long-deferred water infrastructure fixes for the Lake Country Village neighborhood. It comes after the most recent in a long string of water main breaks left 10% of the city’s population using emergency water for a week.

The sound of construction equipment has lately become all too familiar for Lake Country Village residents. “This is probably one of our worst years,” said Randy Lamora, a board member of the Lake Country Village Home Owners Assoc. He’s lived in the neighborhood for the last 8.5 years and had to boil water because of frequent water main breaks. “You really don’t realize how much you need water until you’re missing it.”

Lamora says the ongoing water infrastructure problems make up 95% of complaint emails from residents. “We don’t know the bacteria coming out of these lines, they have been here since the ‘50s,” he said.

“Since 2005, we’ve had 80 water main breaks in this neighborhood,” said Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest. “Based on this old asbestos cement pipe that over time has broken down to a point where it’s become very fragile.”

The decades of use combined with years of small fixes are over. The city council voted last Thursday on an emergency measure to spend $10 million to replace the 20,000 feet of pipe and the city is working with the Clinton County Health Department to declare a state of emergency that should help in getting state and federal funding.

“We’re doing a lot of the work right now. We have funding in place but we need some help with some of this funding as well,” the mayor said.

If those state and federal partners don’t answer the call, it could fall on taxpayers. “On an emergency, yes. We need that money right now but how do we figure out a different way to pay for it so that cost is not being passed on to our residents,” Rosenquest said. He said crews are already working on Kansas Avenue. “Normally, this would be a six-year project spread out over time but we really are looking at replacin a significant majority of this in the next six months.”

And those in the neighborhood say it can’t come fast enough. “I’m just hoping that there’s not a lot of red tape because this has to be fixed,” Lamora said.

Rosenquest says the Margaret Street downtown redevelopment project also has to happen because aging pipes are even older than Lake Country Village and they want to avoid seeing those same problems downtown. “On an emergency, when you are talking about thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses downtown being on emergency water or being without water for a long period of time, it’s very problematic when it’s unplanned and it’s very costly, as we are learning right now,” he said.

Plans to tackle that work, as well as the one-way Margaret St. re-design, is set for next year.

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