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In the midst of drought, Bethany gets a splash of good news with $5M grant

By Joanne Beck
bethany water tanker nov. 2023
2023 File Photo of Bethany Town Supervisor Carl Hyde Jr. reviewing the town's water districts, including the latest Water District 5, which will be a go, thanks to the $5 million WIIA grant awarded to the town. 
Photo by Howard Owens

Tuesday afternoon was unexpectedly busy and gleeful for Bethany Town Supervisor Carl Hyde Jr.

And while still being embroiled in town residents’ plight of dry wells and being in need of daily water supplies, he found something to smile about, he says.

“We’re on the list,” he said about the town’s placement on the state’s Water Infrastructure Improvement Award approvals. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook. I heard from Steve Hawley and J.W. Cook from the governor’s office. He called to say congratulations, you got your grant. I’m very happy.”

Bethany was approved for a $5 million WIIA grant for its Water District 5. 

The town has been enduring dozens of dry wells for home, business and farm owners the last several weeks, with one large farm hauling 60,000 gallons of water a day and residents making weekly treks for water to sustain their household needs. A tanker from the state Office of Emergency Management and generous donations from private companies have helped fill the gap as the town anxiously waited for news about a second application for the grant.

The first application was denied, and town officials submitted a second one earlier this year, anticipating to hear back by the end of December. Water District 5 runs north to Route 20 and includes 440 residential properties. 

Two-thirds of town residents will have public water by the time the district is completed, and then District 6 will be next. That will require a survey to find out if those residents are in favor of a water district, he said, because at least 51 percent will need to be on board with a yes for it to proceed.

“I’ve got a lot of paperwork to do before it goes out to bid. And they’ve got to review the bids when they come back. So, with any luck, our word, according to the engineers, my discussion with the engineering firm is our goal is to start digging by August … for a completion 16 to 18 months after that.

He notified board members, who were “ecstatic,” and let some businesses and farmers know about the grant. 

“They understand it’s a long process, but at least it’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. 

The town has already received a low-interest (2 percent) USDA loan of $16.5 million to be paid back over 38 years by property owners, and the $5 million is a grant with no pay-back strings attached. There will have to be budget amendments due to the price adjustments of a previously lower-cost project before COVID came along and caused delays and price increases, he said. 

But that won’t undermine his momentary good spirits and the news that residents should celebrate, he said.

“It’s a good thing, it’s a bright spot in our dark time here in this drought,” he said. “But it’s not gonna save us at the moment.”

Residents are still showing up at the town hall for twice-weekly water fills, at the rate of 2,000 gallons every two hours. Hyde estimated that the 6,700-gallon tanker might be empty again by Thursday, which will be the second time so far. Genesee County has been transporting the tanker for refills. 

Two other Genesee County municipalities were also on the list for awards:

  • The Town of Le Roy was on the list for a $5 million WIIA grant for Water District 12. Town Supervisor Jim Farnholz was not available for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
  • Genesee County was also listed for a $30 million bond for its Phase 3 water project. County Manager Matt Landers was not available for comment late Tuesday afternoon.


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