The village of Marathon is in the process of working on a project where two water main pipes will be replaced in the Tioughnioga River that will cost close to a million dollars.
This past winter, the village had a water main break in the river. The river, which splits the village east and west, has only one working water main pipe at the moment.
Village mayor Bill McGovern and water superintendent Mike Root received dozens of calls from residents the day of the water main break that they were running out of water.
Both pumps are about 80 years old, McGovern said. He explained further that attached are two water tanks that pump the system and hold a half-million gallons of water between the two pipes.
The tank on the east side of the village was dry, McGovern said. This forces drinking and fire protection water to pump on the west side.
With one pipe broken, McGovern and the village Board of Trustees made the decision to have the working one on the west side replaced as well, since both are the same age.
“We knew we had to take action,” McGovern said. “The pipe on the west side is working, but what if that one broke as well?”
This led to the village starting a project that will have an estimated budget of $750,000. Village officials began the process with a bond anticipation note (BAN), with the bond set up through municipal solutions.
“We’re hoping (750K) is the high number,” McGovern said.
The project will consist of village workers installing 12-inch PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes used for the water mains, instead of the current 8-inch pit-cast material pipes.
As you can see in the images below, one pipe (Option C) starts from the intersection of South and Front Street, extends along the river and goes through the Marathon Fire District. The other pipe (Option A) begins at Mill Street, extends along the river and ends in a field near Cortland Street. The Village decided to not go with Option B, which is why it is not included.
Village officials have received support for this project from residents and the Marathon Central School District Board of Education. Earlier this month, the BOE approved a motion for a portion of the project to take place near the school district since “this affects them,” McGovern said.
The town of Marathon, a handful of residents and the school district also had to sign easements since the project is close to certain properties.
“So far, everyone has been cooperative,” McGovern said.
McGovern looked into the possibility of a state or federal grant covering most, if not, all of the cost of the project. But, he added, “We can’t sit around for a couple of years hoping that a grant will be available for the village.”
The village then followed up by hiring Dodson & Associates Consulting Engineers, PLLC, an engineering consulting company, to assist the village with the project.
“(Jack) Dodson knows our system so we called him in and immediately hired his company for the project,” McGovern said.
The Board of Trustees brought Dodson into one of their recent meetings. According to McGovern, Dodson harped that the pipes in the river “have to be replaced before construction season comes to a close,” which is usually in September.
The third-party company helping the village with the project began with an analysis of the project, then conducted an environmental review “to see if construction will have a negative impact on the environment,” McGovern said. He added that the project involves trenching and drilling under the river.
The review was sent to the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the state health department, pending approval.
“It all takes time,” McGovern said.
McGovern said the BAN will switch to a long-term bond.
“It’s going to take 30 years to pay this off,” he added, saying the interest on payments will gradually increase from 2% to 2.75%.
“We’re going to stretch it out as long as we can,” McGovern said. “We’re going to pay it off before another project like this comes along again.”
The extent of the bond may lead to an increase in water rates. Rates were increased to 6% for the 2019-20 fiscal-year budget, and went up 12% for the 2020-21 budget.
When interest in the bond payments start in 2022, the village is looking at a possible 25% increase in water rates, McGovern noted. He’s hoping that won’t be the case.
Despite the increase in water rates, the village has managed to move around funds in the budget so the water rate isn’t a burden on residents.
“My philosophy is if I need money, I’ll ask you when I need it,” McGovern said.