Perry Point residents seek Dresden water

Gwen Chamberlain

Residents of Perry Point on Seneca Lake who have been waiting for a solution to their water supply woes are becoming more frustrated by the day. Torrey officials have decided to approach the Village of Dresden to establish a contract to sell water to the Perry Point residents, despite objections from the Penn Yan Municipal Utilities Board, the source of Dresden’s water.

That decision came at last week’s Torrey Town Board meeting after a discussion of what Torrey officials and residents say has been a delay imposed by the Penn Yan MUB, which has said water for any new area must be sold by Penn Yan.

The village of Dresden has contracted with Penn Yan for many years, agreeing to purchase up to 106,000 gallons of water per day for its customers. The village historically uses much less water than that, and Torrey and Dresden officials would like to be able to sell the additional water to residents of Perry Point.

The current contract between the two municipalities says the agreement is intended to provide the properties within the Village of Dresden permissive service area with a water source. The contract does not include a legal description of the permissive service area, something that exists for all other contracts negotiated by Penn Yan officials. Dresden Mayor Bill Hall says the village has a map that outlines the area where Dresden is allowed to sell water, but Torrey officials say they have learned from State Department of Environmental Conservation representatives that “permissive service areas” are no longer enforced by the state.

Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar says he first heard about Perry Point residents seeking a water source over 10 years ago, but then had not heard any news until last October. He said the existing contract makes selling water beyond the existing district boundaries clear.

It all leaves people on the three sides of the discussion trying to find a solution that will keep the municipalities out of a court room and provide water to new customers.

MacKerchar says the issue has been a topic of discussion at the village’s municipal utilities board meeting and at the village board meeting this month.

But Perry Point resident George Thompson is tiring of discussions.

“This Torrey petition for water has been going on for 20 years that I know of... We have paid water engineers to study how to get municipal water. They have taken our money and nothing has moved forward,” he wrote in an email message following the Torrey meeting.

The three attorneys — David T. Pullen, representing Dresden, Penn Yan Village Attorney Ed Brockman and Jeffrey Graff, Torrey’s attorney — have not been able to schedule meetings since Pullen’s May and June letters to Brockman.

Perry Point residents have been seeking a reliable source of safe drinking water because of the reduced quality of water from that area of Seneca Lake, and poorly performing wells. The 35 potential customers currently use private systems, while just a short distance away — at the Ferro plant just north of Perry Point — the municipal water flows from Dresden.

Penn Yan contracts with Jerusalem, Dresden, Milo, Benton and Pulteney, selling water to the districts within those municipalities. Pulteney customers buy water that passes through the Jerusalem pipes.

This is a developing story which The Chronicle-Express will continue to follow in the coming weeks, taking a closer look at water systems throughout the area.

Why it matters

The Issue: A group of Torrey residents want to buy water from the village of Dresden.

Local Impact: How this issue is worked out could have an impact on other municipalities that contract with Penn Yan for water. Will its resolution also impact water customers in Penn Yan, Jerusalem, Pulteney, Benton and Milo?

Why it matters