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Ballston Shuts Off Its Water Supply From Saratoga County


The New York town of Ballston recently voted to stop buying water from Saratoga County after testing revealed some concerns over water quality.

The town of Ballston buys water from both the Saratoga County Water Authority and the neighboring Town of Glenville. Recent testing revealed that treated water from Saratoga County contains an elevated level of chlorination byproducts. However, the levels are not higher than federal standards.

Mary Beth Hynes, a town board member and Ballston Representative for the Saratoga County Water Authority, said that the town’s decision Tuesday shut off its water supply from Saratoga County is just an extra level of precaution.

"We've been informed that the County Water Authority that there isn't any imminent danger to anyone's health from having consumed the water but just as a precautionary step we've decided to shut it off for now so they can address some of the water quality issues," said Hynes.

The county’s water is drawn from the Hudson River and treated in Moreau. The chlorination by-products accumulate when organic matter from the river is treated with chlorine.

Ballston encountered water quality problems previously in 2011 and made a temporary switch to the Glenville system, which is supplied by the Great Flats aquifer in Schenectady County. Hynes said that Ballston will again purchase Saratoga County water once the level of chlorination byroducts is lowered.

Chairman of the Saratoga County Water Authority, Jack Lawler, said that the county is actively looking for a solution to the problem.

"The Department of Health is very actively involved in our efforts to improve water quality," said Lawler. "Most importantly, if the water quality represented a threat to the public health, I'm quite confident that the Department of Health would shut the plant down, but there are no immediate threats to the public health."

Lawler mentioned other communities that have encountered problems in the recent past with water quality issues related to chlorination byproducts, including nearby Round Lake and Clifton Park. Stillwater recently installed an aeration system to reduce the presence of byproducts from the water supply.

Lawler said that the county is in the process of finalizing a grant and loan from the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency totaling $1.5 million to build a permitted outflow at the Moreau treatment plant to return organic material back to the river after the filtration process.

"As soon as we execute those documents, and the attorneys are working on them, we're going to go ahead and move forward with the project as quickly as we can," said Lawler.

Ballston Town supervisor Patti Southworth said she was glad to see the town choose to switch to Glenville’s water. Southworth, who worries about the chlorination by-products and detection of traces of lead in Saratoga County’s water, says Glenville’s town government has been willing to offer Ballston a reduced purchase price for the water in the past. She hopes a deal can be offered.

"It goes to show that this is really about what's best for all our residents, and that Glenville sees the importance of providing us safe water," said Southworth.

The town of Ballston is required to and will notify residents of the change.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.