Lee set to test for groundwater sources as town eyes its own possible water system

Published Jan 11, 2017 at 4:00pm

TOWN OF LEE — Drilling to test for potential groundwater sources will be conducted on a site at the town park this spring, to determine whether it could be viable for the town to establish its own water system using wells.

The Town Board on Tuesday night authorized Lee Supervisor John Urtz to contact the Plumley Engineering company to discuss a “schedule for spring testing for water supply.”

The test drilling will cost $35,000, said Urtz. The board last April approved spending $10,800 for a hydrological report on groundwater capacity by the Plumley company, in a preliminary step. Urtz said the earlier study, which included geological records, indicated for the town park that “logically, this is where they should find it,” regarding water; it is a “potential area on town property,” he said. The park area has “favorable potential aquifer characteristics,” said a Plumley company report.

“We’ll find out if we’ve got water” there, Urtz commented. “If that’s the case, it could still be economical for the community.”

The town is checking the feasibility of a water system using wells, including determining whether it may be a more economical option than the current arrangement in which it buys water from the city of Rome’s system.

Urtz said he did not know specifically where the groundwater test drilling would be conducted at the town park. The park is about 77 acres overall. While it has several baseball and soccer fields, it also has some large undeveloped areas. Located just west of Turin Road, the park’s boundaries include Hawkins Corners Road on the south side, while its northern boundaries include an area just south of Cemetery Road.

The 77 acres at the park “will allow for easier drilling access and potentially establishing a wellhead area,” said the Plumley company report.

The town has been paying Rome about $400,000-$500,000 annually for water from the city’s system, for usage by about 1,300 customer billing accounts in the Lee water district. The city last spring changed its billing rate to the town to $3.17 per 1,000 gallons of water used. The town in turn bills its water system customers at a flat rate of $354 per year.

The town has been in discussions with Rome officials regarding a possible new 5-year water usage contract with the city extending to 2021. Topics also have included a pending study on the city’s long-term water rates.

Urtz said town and city representatives met Tuesday regarding the contract. He said of the rate study, “they don’t have it” yet. He added, “we are on a hold for further discussions.” Another meeting may be held within a month, said town attorney David Rapke.

When Town Clerk Sharon Mortis asked whether there were any new developments in the discussions, Urtz quipped “be patient....It’s only been a year....It took five years to get the other one.” The Town Board last January approved a contract with Rome covering to the end of 2015, succeeding an agreement that expired in 2010. The town has continued to buy water from the city during negotiations.