MECHANICVILLE, NY – U.S. Representative Paul Tonko visited the city’s water treatment plant last week as part of a local tour of 10 community projects he submitted from his district for federal funding in 2022 .
Tonko, D-Amsterdam and several of its employees visited the water treatment plant on George Thompson Road on June 3. They were joined by external auditor Mark Seber, financial auditor Keith Johnson, chief water plant operator Jim Horner and Don Fletcher, senior vice president at Barton and Loguidice, the company of engineering for the city water reliability project.
This Mechanicville project, along with nine others in the Tonko District, was selected for submission to the House Committee on Appropriations for federal funding of $ 800,000.
After learning that the committee accepts Community Project Funding (CPF) applications and that each House member can submit 10 projects, Tonko informed that he would review all applications that meet the committee’s eligibility criteria.
Noting that the CPF exam is competitive and the funding process will be very selective without any guarantee of funding, Tonko selected project applications such as Broadband Extension for Rural Westerlo, Dental Expansion for underserved people in Schenectady, the expansion of the Capital Roots urban growth center. in Troy and the Water Reliability Project in Mechanicville with six others.
The city’s water reliability project proposes to repair and replace several kilometers of old and undersized water pipes in order to provide safe and reliable public services to several hundred residents and several local businesses. Existing cast iron water pipes were installed between 1892 and 1928, and aging pipes are susceptible to breaking every week.
The ruptures force the water utility to shut down the entire system to repair the water pipes. This measure results in mandatory boil water advisories and a poor quality of life for residents and businesses. Emergency fire departments have also been negatively affected due to inoperative hydrants and undersized water lines in addition to regular water line breaks.
The cost as submitted to Tonko is $ 1 million. The city has committed to providing up to 20% matching funds if the project receives federal funding.
During the hour-long visit, Tonko, a civil engineer by training, discussed what the funding would do for the city’s residents and businesses as well as the city’s economy.
Seber said there was a great need to replace many of the city’s aging water pipes, a cost far in excess of what the city had requested through Tonko’s office.
“If we are successful in securing the funding, we have chosen a major route (of water pipes) which will be replaced,” he said. “We will look at how much money is left after that and choose which streets we can complete with the remaining funds. ”
Seber noted that the request for federal funding is only one part of a much larger water reliability plan the city is undertaking.
“Part of it was connecting to Saratoga County water for a secondary source, which we did. Another part is replacing as many water pipes as possible in the city and updating some of the electronics in the plant, ”he said. “The water treatment plant is 14 or 15 years old and there are now electronic devices that were not available at the time. And we want to dredge the tank; silt affects capacity.
Seber added that for a small town like Mechanicville, the cost of doing such things is very difficult without financial assistance.
“I will say he was great, the congressman was very supportive of these projects,” Seber said. “Communities our size simply cannot take that kind of money out of our pockets.
Over the past five years, Seber said the city has spent $ 7.5 million on different parts of the water reliability project, with much of the funding coming from sources such as the Department of Health, the US Department of Agriculture and others.
Infrastructure, he said, is not the most glamorous of projects one can do in a city, but they are very necessary and Mechanicville has done a lot in the last 10 years and this one would be very helpful.
City officials decided to take Tonko to the water treatment plant rather than walking a few streets to paint a picture of the city’s comprehensive improvement plan.
“It was a very productive and useful conversation. He was very knowledgeable, ”Seber said. “He’s the one who kind of steered the conversation. He fully understands what we are looking for. I came away very satisfied with the meeting and impressed by the quality of its management. I appreciate that we are one of the 10 projects on the congressman’s list.