Issues bubble to surface of water talks

Published Feb 15, 2018 at 4:10pm

The Common Council heard from Verona town officials at a work session Wednesday and will soon consider a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the sale of city water to the town.

The town currently gets its water from the City of Oneida’s system, but it needs more and Oneida’s limited supply cannot accommodate the request, Town Supervisor Scott M. Musacchio told the council.

The town has been looking for a way to obtain more water for over 20 years, Musacchio said. It uses about 500,000 gallons a day but even that is more than its allowance from Oneida, he added.

“A water quality issue” is the problem, he said. So the town approached the Onondaga County Water Authority, the Mohawk Valley Water Authority and Rome.

The town’s residents use about 120,000 gallons a day and most of the rest of the daily usage is by the Oneida Indian Nation, Musacchio said.

While there is a health concern, the town is also interested
in economic development, Musacchio said. Without more water, that development is stunted because new users cannot be added to the system.

The town estimates a project cost of about $25 million. The lone cost to the city would be upgrading a 12-inch main in west Rome— part of the third of three phases in its own water system expansion — to a 16-inch main.

There was no discussion at the work session about how much the city would charge the town for water.

The city already sells to the Towns of Lee (about 1,300 customers), Floyd (about 1,000 customers), Westmoreland (20 customers) and Whitestown (12 customers) and the residents of Camelot Village (about 100 customers). However, whenever the discussion turns to large-scale sale of water to other municipalities, city leaders have often pointed out their interest in assuring water to Rome residents who do not have city water.

At the work session, Councilor Frank R. Anderson, R-5, told the Verona leaders that he wants to be sure to “take care of the citizens of Rome first.”

At the regular council meeting during the public comment section, John Sallustio of Kolton Drive said the proposal would allow the town supervisor to “continue to develop his town using our water.” He suggested the city look into the possibility of selling the City of Oneida water directly from Lake Tagasoke, the lake in the Town of Lewis that Rome owns and uses for its water supply. He said the lake and Oneida are five miles apart.

The memorandum will likely be on the council’s agenda when it meets on Feb. 28.

Rome’s system provides water to about 32,000 customers inside and outside the city. Customers use about 9 million gallons of water daily on average. The plant filters water on pace with usage, but can filter up to 18 million gallons daily. The plant also maintains a pair of reservoirs that hold a total of 65 million gallons of treated water. The city is in the midst of adding an ultraviolet filtering system under federal mandate, but leaks in consecutive days in November 2016 have delayed completion of the project.