Phoenicia faces hefty tab for water system repair

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Phoenicia water system is in need of repairs that could cost more than $1 million, and water district officials say there’s no real plan for where to get the money to pay for them.
A small community with only a couple of hundred users, Phoenicia was forced into building a filtration system in the late 1990s to comply with the Federal Clean Water Act. Grants of $800,000 were obtained at the time for construction, but that amount did not fully cover the job, so engineers built a bare-bones system with the hope that the bells and whistles would be added at a later date when more funding was made available.

Borrowed money
But those funds never showed up. So in 2005, under former Shandaken Supervisor Robert Cross Jr., Phoenicia borrowed $63,000 to make upgrades, and another $160,000 the following year for more work, causing a big hike in the tax levy.

Monday night, Phoenicia Water Committee Chairman Alfred Peavy told the town board that it is time once again for some work. Not just on the filtration system, but the delivery system too.
Peavy said the district paid an engineer to review the system last year. According to Peavy, the engineer identified $1 million worth of work needed to get the system functioning properly.
However, it may cost much more.

Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley said the water district is awaiting word from the State of New York, which is considering paying the district’s share for repairs to yet another part of the system. Flooding last August destroyed a section of the system known as the High Street Pump Station. Should the state not kick in the money, the district’s repair costs for that problem would be significant, Stanley said.

He added that it makes sense to wait until next month when he hears back from the state about that funding before making any decisions on the upgrades about which Peavy was talking.