Water is back to full flow in Lowville with 'water watch' called off

·3 min read

Oct. 13—LOWVILLE — Village residents and businesses can go back to their normal water usage patterns as the water warning initiated at the end of last week is over.

Superintendent of Public Works Paul Denise said that the 20-foot tank that was down to about 11 feet of water on Thursday is now back up to around 16 feet, "so everything is looking good."

"We feel confident that we can continue making progress on increasing the tank every day with some stuff we have tweaked up at the water plant," Mr. Denise said. "As a recommendation from the (state) Department of Health ... they said we could take the restrictions off."

The "tweaks" were done in the mobile water filtering trailer, made by the Pall Corporation in Cortland, that supplements the four main filtering beds.

"It's got four racks of tubes that help filter the water," Mr. Denise said.

A manager at the Kraft Heinz plant also showed up for the Municipal Water and Sewer Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening that ended up being postponed when three of the board members who are also volunteer firefighters were called out to a blaze.

A meeting is being organized between the manager and village leadership to discuss the water issue either at the end of this week or early next week, according to Mr. Denise.

"At least things are going in the right direction. They're coming around now; it's not me calling them to set something up. They're actually talking to me, which is good," he said.

In the interim, meter readings on the tank are done every day at "10 o'clock on the nose" and another meter registers the water flow out of the tank every minute, which fluctuates between 400 gallons per minute to over 1,000 gallons per minute.

The village does not at this time have any control over how quickly the water is pulled out of the tank.

"It's pretty much whatever they (Kraft) can pull, they can pull," Mr. Denise said.

The village is hoping to convince Kraft Heinz to install a 200,000-gallon water holding tank that will act as an additional buffer for water usage before there is an impact on the municipal tank, as recommended by the state Department of Health in 2017.

If the company did install such a tank, Mr. Denise said he believes the village would install a flow rate valve at the same time, but to install such a valve now would require shutting down all water to the plant for at least two days.

The water rate valve was the second recommendation made by the Department of Health in 2017.

In July, Kraft increased its daily water usage from between 750,000 and 850,000 gallons of water daily, as agreed upon in the annual village-Kraft Heinz update meeting, to over 1 million gallons without giving the village any notice. In August, a bump up to 1.3 million gallons in one day resulted in a water emergency being declared in the village.

A project to get a number of ground water wells online for the village, which are expected to be approved to produce about 2.4 million gallons of water daily, is the anticipated long-term solution to the current water dilemma.

A public hearing will be held at 4 p.m. Oct. 20 at the municipal building, 5535 Bostwick St., about surcharges on water usage over 900,000 gallons per week and a $1,000 daily surcharge for industrial users taking 1.1 million gallons or more daily.

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