Article courtesy of Brian Molongoski | January 7, 2016 | Watertown Daily Times | Shared as educational material
PAMELIA — The town of Orleans is not the only local municipality where residents have suffered from water contamination possibly caused by state Department of Transportation salt storage.
A few town of Pamelia residents on Route 342 west of Interstate 81 endured water contamination and pipe corrosion long before a new municipal water line was constructed in 2013.
Directly across the road from these residences is a DOT facility with road salt sheds, similar to a storage barn on Route 12 in the town of Orleans that has wrought havoc on residential water and spurred protests calling for the DOT to fix the problem.
While Pamelia residents said they did not get a confirmation from the DOT that their water was indeed contaminated by salt stored close by, some said they were dealing with corroded pipes and damaged utilities for years before the new waterline was constructed.
Eric Hoselton, one of three residents across from the DOT facility, said he’s experienced contamination and corrosion since he moved to his home in 2002.
Mr. Hoselton said he contacted the DOT years ago to determine the cause, and a specialist came to his house to test the water. He said the specialist could neither rule out nor confirm that the contamination was caused by the nearby salt.
Long after his water was tested, Mr. Hoselton said, the problem was not solved until the DOT constructed the new municipal water line. By that time, however, he said he’d already spent thousands replacing appliances and utilities over the years.
The new pipe runs between the DOT facility and the Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppe on the other side of I-81. The line was mostly paid for by the state, but each homeowner on Route 342 has to pay a $2,500 water district charge to cover capital costs.
In the end, Mr. Hoselton said he’s happy the problem was solved.
“It worked out well for us,” he said. “I hope (Orleans residents) have the same luck.”
Bill P. Wilcox, who lives two houses down from Mr. Hoselton, said he, too, experienced extensive corrosion in his house in the 19 years he’s lived there. His home was also connected to the waterline in 2013. While he never figured out exactly what caused the contamination, he assumed the culprit was the constant movement of salt trucks and snow plows going in and out of the facility daily. His home is closest to the facility’s entryway.
Like Mr. Hoselton, Mr. Wilcox said he had spent a lot of money replacing utilities throughout the house, including his water tank and furnace.
Former Pamelia Supervisor Larry C. Longway said the last time he heard complaints about water contamination possibly caused by salt in the area was in the 1990s. He said he once had to replace utilities in his restaurant, Longway’s Diner, in 1995. The diner is located east of the DOT facility near I-81.
The town of Orleans is trying to move forward with a project to construct a new municipal water line to connect with Alexandria Bay. Construction is slated to cost $13 million. The town did qualify for a $11 million interest-free loan, along with $100,000 secured by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton. The town still needs an additional $1.9 million in funding to close the gap or local residents will have to pay $1,000 a year to cover costs.
The DOT has not claimed responsibility for the contamination there.