by Dan McClelland
The flurry of the temporary water easements sent to all village water customers early last week from Engineer Kevin Feuka's C2AE office in Canton created some discomfort for some people here.
Trustee Ron LaScala, who oversees the water and sewer departments, acknowledged that in this report to the board Wednesday.
“I'm sure you've all got some phone calls from some people who are not happy,” he told his colleagues that evening.
He encouraged unhappy customers to speak with Superintendent Mark Robillard or other village administrators who understand the legal requirement.
The temporary easements are necessary to give the village's contractor permission to enter customers' residence to install the new water meters/monitors.
The legal documents must be signed and notarized and returned to Mr. Feuka's office before any work can be scheduled.
“I can tell you as a board member that if any damage is done to someone's property during installation (of the new devices), it won't be coming out of the homeowner's pocket if it is due to the village's negligence or the contractor's negligence,” Trustee LaScala assured the community that evening.
“That's been the number one question put to me,” he said of water customers' concerns.
“People can relax” that the work won't cost them any money.
“We are being forced to install these water meters. Not a single member here wants to put them in.”
He said the requirement came from the state Department of Environmental Conservation when it came time for the agency to license the drawing of water from the new wells at Pitchfork Pond. Village leaders were apparently caught off guard by the mandate, according to their recent comments.
Mr. LaScala said it made no sense to sue the state agency to prevent the installation of the devices at the property of each water customers “because we were going to lose!”
“It's all part of what we do here...and we don't always get what we want!”
“People had some honest questions, and we've tried to answer them as honestly as we can!”
“The water department has undertaken a huge infrastructure project here” and the water meters are part of that, he explained.
Mayor Paul Maroun said he too has received calls from some “agitated” water customers.
“We're going to work with everyone.”
He said there were approximately 2,400 letters sent out. Everyone who uses municipal water in the town or village got one.
He said the easements expire in December 2020- a time frame which would give the village and its contractors time to finish the installations.
The devices will be installed just past where the water pipe enters a property in its basement. An alternative installation will be inside a well pit in the lawn, where there is not a basement in the residence.
“We are liable from the time we go in until we leave,” he said of the process.
Retired water and sewer staffer Gary Drayse has been retained to supervise each installation.
“Gary's been in most of the cellars in the community and he will make sure everything is set before we leave the premises.”
“No homeowner will be liable for anything...for any of the work done!” he assured residents.
“We are going to make this as painless as possible...we will work with people around their schedules!”
The mayor said they will attempt to tackle one neighborhood at a time.
“I know there are people here who are very upset, but we are upset too. If we want to get well water from the wells where we spent a ton of money, we have to do it this way!”
Ron LaScala said the devices will be good to have in the community. “These are not meters...we are not using them to charge for the water.”
They will be used by the village “to track its water loss” through the entire system. Water loss is what the DEC is very concerned about, he noted.
He said several summers ago the village spent weeks looking for a major leak in the village system and there was plenty of overtime rate paid village employees to eventually find it. With the new monitors, he said, that will be avoided in the future.
“It will save ratepayers a lot of money, because in the future they will not have to pay to clean and chlorinate water that through a major leak would just have been wasted.”