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City of Watertown tries to give cleaner water to Pamelia

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The city of Watertown admits the water it is sending to the town of Pamelia needs to be cleaner.

During one quarter in 2011, the city violated federal quality standards because its water contained an excessive amount of disinfectant byproducts — the same contamination that is being sent to Pamelia.

Treated at the Water Department filtration plant at 1707 Huntington St., the city’s water is pumped to Fort Drum via a 13-mile waterline operated by the Development Authority of the North Country. The authority’s Warneck Pumping Station, 23557 Route 37, pumped an average of 1.1 million gallons per day in February — about 80 percent of which went to Fort Drum. Along with Pamelia, the water is used as a partial water source by the town of LeRay, including the hamlet of Calcium.

Water Department Superintendent Michael J. Sligar said samples taken at some testing sites in the city have been an ongoing problem for years; the city still managed to meet quality standards, though, because the state Department of Health takes the average amount of contamination found at four testing sites.

The city didn’t take corrective action until 2009, when it hired Hazen & Sawyer, New York City, to complete a water-quality study. The study found organic material in water flowing west from the Black River was making its way through the filtration plant. That organic material in the water reacts with chlorine, a disinfectant, to create contamination.

In the future, “we plan to do everything we can to make sure our water has the very best quality, with an eye toward our users and (outside) users,” he said. “If they don’t meet the water quality standards, we’re still doing everything we can do here to prevent it.”

Mr. Sligar said the main problem in Pamelia’s ongoing problems in meeting water standards is the distance and time it takes for the water to reach the town.

“Pamelia is much different than we are because the water is younger when it enters our system and older in theirs,” he said. “The longer it sits in the pipe, the higher chance it has of producing” contamination.

Fort Drum gets about two-thirds of its drinking water from underground wells on the post, according to Mr. Sligar, and gets the rest from the city via the DANC line.

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