Hoosick Falls water bill refunds closer

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HOOSICK FALLS, NY — Residents who couldn't use tap water for months are one step closer to being refunded on their water bills.

The governor's office on Tuesday transferred $178,478.87 to the village, representing about six months worth of water bills, according to a state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman.

DEC Spokesman Sean Mahar said it will be the village's responsibility to distribute the funds to the roughly 4,500 water users in the village, where the discovery of the potentially harmful chemical PFOA resulted in their not being able to drink or cook with the tap water.

The state, through the Superfund process, is seeking reimbursement from the two parties deemed responsible for the contamination, Mahar said.

Refunds were among several announcements Cuomo made March 13, the first and only time he's visited the village since the EPA issued a nodrink order in November.

The $240,000 for rebates originally announced by Cuomo's administration was used as a "temporary marker" and that it was the village who subsequently provided the state with the exact figure, Mahar said.

Mayor David Borge previously said it would take the village about 30 days to issue the six-month rebates to water users.

The DEC announced last week that two companies — Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International — signed consent orders holding them responsible for contamination from PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical involved with making the nonstick coating Teflon. Both companies were ordered to pay for maintenance on filtration systems and to reimburse the state and village for costs.

Saint-Gobain already agreed to install a carbon filtration system in the village. A temporary one is online and a larger one is set to be done this fall.

Village and town officials are looking how to protect private well owners from PFOA. They're considering extending the village's water line south on Route 22.

The idea mixed reactions at a public information meeting Tuesday night at the Armory. Residents said they were concerned that additional connections would tax the aging infrastructure with already low water pressure. They also questioned the effectiveness of the filtration systems, although testing by the state has continually not detected PFOA after the systems are installed. It was also unclear how moving parts — like the EPA's search for an alternate water supply to replace the village's three wells which contain elevated PFOA — would come into play.

Officials stressed they asked the same questions residents did and said the study would answer them.

"We have folks looking at us now and we're being told we have to go after these dollars," Borge said during the joint meeting between himself, the village board, Hoosick Town Supervisor Mark Surdam and the town board.

Officials aim to spend roughly $46,000 on a feasibility study by MRB Engineering on the project. Funding would come from the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC). Borge said the project must be submitted by August to be considered for funding.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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