At $197 per user per year, the price Village of Alexander residents would be asked to pay for a new water system seemed quite a bargain to at least one person who attended an information session at the Alexander Fire Hall on Thursday night.
"When I compare this to my cable bill, and water is an essential of life and cable isn't, this is cheaper than my cable bill," said Dawn Townsend at the end of the hour-long meeting.
Consultants Steve Mountain and Jeff Smith laid out for the residents the engineering and financing of the project and then answered questions.
The goal of the project is to replace an aging and break-prone water system that is also susceptible to spreading contaminated water, with all new water lines from the water source in Attica to and around the Village.
In all, 30,000 feet of water main would be replaced with new eight-inch and 12-inch PVC pipe. The Village would also receive new fire hydrants, a new pump station, and new water meters at each residence.
As a result, asbestos would be eliminated from the system and the potential for lead contamination would be eliminated. Water quality would likely improve and residents -- and fire hydrants -- would receive increased water pressure.
The total cost of the project is an estimated at $3.97 million. While that's an estimate contingent on final plans being drawn up, Mountain said he feels comfortable with the estimate based on what he's observed with the Village of Elba recently undertaking a similar project.
Village officials have identified a water infrastructure grant that would cover $2,382,000 -- or 60 percent -- of the cost.
The Village would borrow $1,588,000 through a program that would reduce the interest rate by a third, making it approximately 2.26 percent over the 30-year life of the loan.
The annual debt service per water customer then would be $197 each.
Without the grant and without the low-interest loan, the cost would have been $568 per user per year.
While the Health Department has put the Village on notice about low levels of contamination, particularly for haloacetic acids (HAA), a byproduct of the water cleaning process, concentrations are low enough that there is no health threat.
The new pipes wouldn't trap HAA the way metal pipes do currently, thereby reducing the amount of the chemical in the water system.
The other benefit for residents is that the new system and new hydrants should help improve the insurance service rating, which should mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners.
"We're going to make sure everything we do increases this rating as high as we can," Mountain said.
Smith said Village officials will continue to pursue grants that may come available to help reduce the per-user cost further.
There was a water main break in the Village awhile back that cost $200,000 to repair. In that case, an emergency grant helped cover the repair cost, but Smith said Village residents can't always count on those kinds of funds being available to cover future breaks.
The new system should have a practical useful life of 80 to 100 years.