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New York to kick in $4 million for North Country water line

David Sommerstein
New York State says it's been "unable to conclusively tie the salt contamination to road salt use or storage" from this salt barn on Route 12, just off Interstate 81

New York state is going to pony up more money for a water line in the Jefferson County town of Orleans. The state will pay half of the $8 million residents were going to pay because for the new line. Their wells are contaminated with salt they say is from a nearby state road-salt storage barn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office called Orleans town supervisor Kevin Rarick last week to say the state will pay another $4 million for the line.

Orleans is running the new water line because hundreds of residents have salt,  and in some cases lead, contaminating their well water. Residents blame the state’s nearby road salt storage barn as the source of the pollution. The state denies that.

Andy Greene is a resident with bad water. He’s been a lead organizer in a local effort to get the state to take responsibility. He says the $4 million is good news, but not the ultimate goal.

The goal line is accountability by New York state, not just monetarily. They need to be accountable for the mistake that they made and for the damage that they’ve done to our aquifer and any other aquifers that they’ve done damage to.

Homeowners in other places near road salt barns have had water problems, including Pamelia and Dannemora.

North Country State Assemblywoman Addie Jenne has said she’s convinced the state salt barn is the problem. In a text message, she said the extra money is great news and praised Gov. Cuomo for “making things right” for the people in Orleans.

The new water line will cost $13 million. Residents were going to have to pay $8 million of that through a no-interest loan. This money cuts that in half. Construction is expected to start in the spring.