Torrey approves two new water districts

John Christensen

Last Tuesday, the Torrey Town Board unanimously approved the two water districts proposed at the public hearing Jan. 12. With the formation of the districts, the town will now apply to the New York State Comptroller for approval.

However, where the water for a small district in the Perry Point area will come from is stalled in communications between the Villages of Penn Yan and Dresden and the Town of Torrey.

Torrey District #1 will receive water from the Town of Geneva’s well at Kashong, via a main that is being extended by the Town of Benton, and serves portions of Rte. 14, as well as Albany, Boston, Caton, Serenity, and Davy Roads. The district will involve approximately 16,300 linear feet of 6, 8, and 12-inch water mains to serve approximately 44 residential units and three out of four wineries. There are also approximately 20 vacant lots, bringing the Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) count to approximately 58.0 units.

The maximum total project cost is estimated at $1.6 million, to be funded by USDA Rural Development with an expected $500,000 grant and a low interest loan for 38 years at 2.875 percent. The yearly cost per EDU will be $1,152; $438 for water cost plus $714 for debt service. Torrey will purchase the water from Benton, and contract with Benton to meter and bill the customers and maintain the lines.

Torrey District #2 will serve the Perry Point neighborhood, an area with poor producing wells, lower rated lake water because of effluent to Seneca Lake from the Keuka Lake Outlet, and recent outbreak of toxic blue-green algae due to the drought, low lake levels, and high summer temperatures.  The total maximum cost is estimated at nearly $1.4 million, also funded by the USDA, with a yearly EDU cost of $1,293 - $585 for water, $708 for debt service.

Support for District #2 is strong, but the source of the water remains in doubt. Project planner, Jeremy E. De Lyser, a civil engineer with Clark Patterson Lee Design, expected the water to be supplied from the Village of Penn Yan via the existing main line from Penn Yan to Dresden.  However, the question of whether the water will be purchased from Dresden or from the Municipal Utilities Board of Penn Yan with just a transmission fee paid to Dresden, is unresolved.

As with Benton in District #1, Torrey had planned on contracting with Dresden for the water  and for metering, billing, and maintenance in District #2. But Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar sent a letter to Torrey Supervisor Pat Flynn, stating, “The acquisition of water by Torrey through the Dresden system is feasible. The method to do so would require an agreement between Torrey and Penn Yan to acquire the water and an accompanying agreement between Torrey and Dresden for the water to pass through Dresden’s water system to the Torrey water system.

“This would apply to any area of the Town of Torrey which is outside Dresden’s permissive service area as it was described in November, 1995. The reason for this is that the agreement between Dresden and Penn Yan allows Dresden to provide water from Penn Yan to that 1995 permissive service area only.

“The current proposal by Dresden to sell water directly to Torrey is not acceptable. Penn Yan will require the agreements as explained above. Penn Yan must have an agreement with the end user of the water produced by its treatment plant.

“The Village of Penn Yan is prepared to proceed through an agreement with the Town of Torrey at any time.” In an interview, MacKerchar added that this is how the Town of Pulteney purchases water transmitted there via the Town of Jerusalem’s water main. “I think the agreements we have have been beneficial to everybody,” says MacKerchar. “We have to have consistency.”

Meanwhile, Dresden Mayor Bill Hall calls that transmission fee “ridiculously low” contributing little to the debt service for the water main from Penn Yan, and says the matter seems to be at a stalemate. According to Hall, Dresden’s Village Attorney, Jeff Graff of Clifton Springs, has had to withdraw from representing them in this matter as he is also Torrey’s attorney. Hall says he cannot comment on how Dresden will proceed until they have found a new attorney and had legal advice. He hopes to have an answer in March.