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Bethany residents facing big decision over public water

Town board members in Bethany need to hear from town residents on an important topic: Do you want public water?

Eric Wies, senior associate for Clark Patterson Lee, repeated that message several times last night at a public meeting in Bethany attended by nearly 100 residents.

The town board won't go forward with a public water project unless enough residents express interest because there's no point in going forward if property owners won't eventually sign a petition in support of creating a water district.

To that end, Wies (a water project consultant) said there are a number of factors property owners must consider, beginning with the fact their annual expected cost for public water could be as much as $1,600.

The final cost won't be determined until after the town board takes the next step toward setting up one or more water districts.

Wies explained in detail how water districts are formed and funded.

There is grant money available either from the state or federal government, but according to census data, the median household income in Bethany is $58,200.

That's much too high to even discuss the possibility of a state grant and a tad too high for a USDA Rural Development grant.

If there's sufficient interest from residents to take a closer look at public water, the town board will commission a third-party household income survey.

The responses will be kept confidential and the aggregate data shared with the town board.

If it shows that the actual median household income is less than $58,000, then the town would have a shot at a USDA grant.

Such a grant could lower the annual cost for residential water to $1,000 a year on average.

Bringing public water to Bethany involves creating one or more water districts.

Each water district would borrow the money necessary to connect to a water main from either the Monroe County Water Authority or the Town of Batavia's water supply and install water lines down each roadway in the district.

Part of the annual cost for each property owner is repayment of the loan, which will take 38 years to pay off.

"We're not spending our money. We're spending your money," said Supervisor Louis J. Gayton. "We don't want to spend your money if this is something you don't want."

The loan payoff follows the property, not the current property owner.

Some of the water cost for property owners, of course, is for the water itself. There will also be a charge, mandated by the county for new water districts, to help pay for the big water line that brings water from Monroe County to Genesee County. 

Bethany water customers will pay the surcharge -- 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water -- whether the new district(s) goes with Monroe County water or Town of Batavia water.

Wies encouraged property owners to really examine the cost of their well water.  Well water costs include pumps (and pump replacements), electricity, replacing plumbing and fixtures regularly if the water is too hard, filtration, chlorination and water safety tests.

Some residents may find they're already spending as much as $1,600 a year on water, Wies said. They just don't realize it.

"This is a decision each of you will have to make yourselves," Wies said.

Public water will also mean fire hydrants in the town and more effective firefighting.

If residents decide to push forward with a water project, then Hyde and other residents (board members can't do it) will bring a petition around to each resident. The petition will have the property owner's name on it, the parcel number and the exact anticipated cost of water for the property owner.

If the owner signs the petition, it's like a yes vote. No signature, it's a no.

Property owners holding at least 50 percent of the assessed value of all property in the district must sign the petition, but as a practical matter, property owners with more than 70 or 80 percent of assessed value must support the formation of a water district.

At 50 percent, it's much easier for one owner who objects to block formation of the district.

If there's enough support for the district, then the town must appeal to the Comptroller's Office to approve the formation of the district. The Comptroller can veto the formation of the district where the annual cost of water exceeds $685.

The issue of public water reached this point largely because of the work of Carl Hyde, the champion for public water in Bethany.

At the end of the meeting, Hyde said he's done all he can do to get the issue to this point.

"Now it's up to you," he said. "This is your decision."

Top photo: Eric Wies. First inset, town attorney David DiMatteo. Third inset, Carl Hyde.

Doug Yeomans
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Hmm..this is the first I've heard anything about town water in Bethany. Even if it costs me $1000 per year, I do not want it. My well produces all of the water I need. My electric bill is in the $70/month range and I might spend $5/month on salt for the softener. I run drinking water through a reverse osmosis unit and that unit cost $130 about 5 years ago. If my total electric bill is $840 per year and that includes running the well pump, lights, diesel block heater, hot tub, etc, my well is costing me next to nothing to operate.

I haven't had to replace a well pump in the 10 years I've owned the house. In that 10 years I've sanitized the well once just as a precaution because it's so shallow. How anyone can say it's costing me $1600 per year for a well, I think they're way off base.

I don't need or want the extra cost of public water at my residence so count me out. What I really frikken want is CABLE!

Jack Dorf
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Doug, go for a dish. Even if water comes down your road you are not mandated to hook up to it unless you are tied into town provided sewer system. If you are on a private septic you can remain on your well. You still will have water district fees added to your taxes. I'm not aware that this law has changed.

Ricky G. Hale
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I live in East Bethany, and we have cable at our house. I am also on a well, and lived there 10 years. I add salt to my softner, and chlorine to my chlorinator. I've had to rebuild my injection pump a couple of times, but that's it. It surely doesn't cost me $1600 a year to operate. Even without the treatment, my water isn't that bad. It's actually pretty good, and I don't need a R.O. system. At this time , I would be not interested in municipal water.

Sally Waldron
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We were wondering what all the traffic was coming from the Town Hall last night, too bad we didn't know about it or we would have went.

That being said, I don't want this either because number 1 I wouldn't be able to afford it, number 2 I don't want my taxes going up and Thirdly I have heard that you have to cap off your well to get the public water, and with all of the flower gardens I have my bill would be crazy.
I would say that we spend maybe 4 bucks every few month for bleach and 2 bags of salt a month that is 10,00. So not counting electric its approx 150.00 a year, and a bit more for electric, which is a far cry from what they are saying.

And to go even further, why should I have to have my taxes raised for something I don't want?

Sally Waldron
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Thanks Howard for clarifying that for me. I am wondering, are they considering this for the whole Bethany area? The last I heard it was in the Little Canada and 63 area only at this point.....

Jack Dorf
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Howard, people who wish to keep there well would have to install a back flow preventor.

Bob Price
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At first I didn't want it,but changed my mind. MCWA-you can keep your well,but it must be kept on a separate line(like for watering your gardens,washing cars,etc)-you also need to have it inspected at time of public water hookup,then I can't remember if it's every 2 or 5 years being re-inspected(don't know cost). Also-quarry is about a mile north of our well,and I think they wanted to extend southward-so if they blast and hit your water artery,you're SOL. Our well was 120' deep,never problem w/ quantity,but quality.Sulfur,iron,hard-we had a treatment system at one point,then tried softener and chlorinator-to me,that was a PITA. Now I just go to faucet and grab a cup of water to drink-much simpler. It also slightly increases your property value if you decide to sell. Biggest expense was getting line from road to house-plan on $1k-$2k if you hire someone,also varies on distance and difficulty(big rocks,etc). Family of 4,the water bill was between $50-$60 for a quarter-not bad. A guy that lives about 1/2 mile south of me has signs up he WANTS public water-I believe he has to have water trucked in,not sure-he's only about 1500' south of where the main ends.....

Doug Yeomans
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Jack Dorf, my only option for the past 10 years has been satellite broadband and I dislike it immensely. I just want the cable broadband so I've been talking to Time Warner about getting the cable run and paying for it myself. It would allow me to run a small business on the side so the cost would be worth it.

Ricky Hale, I've been a stationary engineer for 30 years and if you knew what I know about water treatment and well water, you'd probably run your drinking water through an RO unit, too, just sayin'. Fertilizers, cow poop...etc...I don't care how well your well is grouted, those things make it into water aquifers. An RO unit removes (depending on the unit) about 99.99% of everything, including the sodium ions from the softener. Chlorine is a carcinogen and I would never chlorinate my water. BTW, chlorine will destroy an RO membrane. There are variables of how much chlorine a membrane can be exposed to and those variables are how many PPM of chlorine is in the source, whether you use a carbon pre-filter, how often you CHANGE the filter and PH levels of the water. Generally, chlorinated water and RO units don't mix.

Doug Yeomans
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Jack Dorf, I also am licensed for backflows. I think they're a great idea for water supplies of all types for obvious reasons.

For anyone interested, if you're forced to install a backflow device on any system, you'll need to pay someone to test them annually. Here's the exception to the rule. An air gap in a system counts as a backflow preventer. I will explain...

Backflow devices prevent contamination from "back flowing" into a shared water supply. If your garden hose is in a tank of fertilizer and you lose water pressure, that fertilizer can backflow through your house water system into the source of the water. It happens! Siphon breakers on water hoses are a great idea, even if you have a backflow unit on the water supply line.

Now, about that air gap I mentioned. If you install a reservoir tank in your basement and a jet pump supplying pressure to the house, the well water supply to the reservoir can be separated by an air gap. If you have a 1" pipe dumping into the reservoir, the end of the pipe needs to be one and one half times the diameter of the pipe above the edge of the reservoir. I recommend two times the diameter of the supply line so that nobody can ever question it. An air gap never fails and you'll never need to pay me $120 to test a backflow device

Smile

Doug Yeomans
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Chlorination has a direct link to bladder, colon and rectal cancers. Chlorine is really bad stuff and exposure to it should be avoided.

Reverse osmosis has been identified by EPA as a ¿best available technology¿(BAT) and Small System Compliance Technology (SSCT) for uranium, radium, gross alpha, and beta particles and photon emitters. It can remove up to 99 percent of these radionuclides, as well as many other contaminants (e.g., arsenic, nitrate, and microbial contaminants). Reverse osmosis units can be automated and compact making them appropriate for small systems.

http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/radionuclides/radionuclides.cfm?action=Ra...

Loy Gross
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It's important to note that although you don't have to take the water, you cannot be exempted from the water district capital cost fees if you live in the service area - that amount is the $1,000-$1,600 per year for 38 years. The actual water fees are quite a bit less (less than $300 per year after setup costs). If the district forms around my property, I might as well go in for it to save on conditioning expenses - I'll get slapped with the big cost either way.

Sally, the area being considered is Transit Rd (Bethany side only) from Sweetland to East Bethany-LeRoy Rd, East Bethany-LeRoy Rd from Transit to 63, Torrey Rd, Little Canada Rd, Fargo from Stafford to 63, Clapsaddle Rd (Bethany side only), and Rt 63 between Kistner Concrete and Clapsaddle. It's divided into 4 districts right now, some of which may not happen and all of which may change.

They gave us two options on keeping our own wells: 1) install a backflow preventer (no one said anything about needing annual inspections on it) or 2) keep completely separate water systems and pay MCWA $150 to do inspections every three years.

I can see both sides of this issue - I have a property that has excellent water with just a bit of conditioning where I don't need - or want - a water bill. But I have another property that has terrible water and _really_ needs it. Even so, the cost is still high enough that it might make more sense to put a tank there. I still have to do the math.

I had no idea the bills would be so high with no opt-out. I haven't been involved in a water district in years, so I thought we were looking at something like $500/year capital costs. I'm absolutely floored by these dollar amounts.

Carl 02 (not verified)
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Yes Bob I do have the signs in my yard. I have 2 wells and I do at times haul water. The quary had a minning permit granted to mine 300 yards to the south. Closer to us. As for Doug, this topic has been on the Batavian, in the Batavia Daily and talked about at town board meetings in Bethany strongly since November 2012. For those that live in Bethany the Town Board meets the second Monday of the month at 7:00 pm. Same as it has for years. Not everyone has good water. In the East Bethany area of the 250 homes that I went door to door and spoke to personaly, only 10 said they had good water and did not want public water. Ask around and you'd be supprised at the people in Bethany as a whole that want public water. I've lived in Bethany for over 40 years.I have 2 wells. Own and lived in this house for 16 years. One well now has high bacteria,and iron and the other you can acctualy light a glass of water on fire, along with bacteria, Iron and other 30letter chemicals. I have to haul water in and that costs money for water and gas in the truck, Go do laundry = gas and money, buy drinking water = gas and money, electricity for 2 well pumps, more money, water system and filters, replace fixtures, more money. It does add up after a while. The informational meeting at the Town Hall was all estimated numbers, $1000.00 to $1600.00 a year to have a water district created in East Bethany, installed and aprox. water usage of 65,000 gallons sold to each family. The cost to a family from MCWA (Monroe County Water Authoriy) for 65,00 gallons is $277.00. Some people think this would raise there taxes but here's a news flash your taxes are and will continue to go up. They are based on houses with the same square footage in Genesee county. If your house is compared to houses in LeRoy, Batavia ect where they have public water guess what, You get assesed the same. If we don't have public water than why do we have to pay the same taxes? To lower taxes you need to increase the tax base.In 2011 only 1 home was built in Bethany. In 2012 ZERO homes were built in Bethany. Reason for no one wanting to come to Bethany to live - NO PUBLIC WATER. Costs for the town go up so our taxes will go up also. Simple economics. Another thing about public water is fire protection. Several structures in areas that don't have public water burnt to the ground do to lack of water. Not the fire departments fault. They do the best they can with the available resources. And I commend them. What is your health, safety, family and home worth to you?

Sally Waldron
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Ok thanks that is what I thought on the districts so it doesn't involve me at this time since we live right down from the town hall.

So the only ones that will be affected with higher tax's are the ones that live within the district? Or will the entire Bethany population have to foot this bill?

Sally Waldron
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I don't know if I can agree with no one wanting to come to Bethany because of the water, I moved here over 20 years ago and knew the water was bad, but then again being a country girl all my life I have always lived off well water. Those that move out here that have lived on City water I am sure can have complaints about it.

I still do not agree that is costs that much to live off well water, but then again I am lucky enough to have a well that even in the worst drought never runs out of water so I do not have to haul any in, and I do all of my laundry at home and have for years. Since we have installed our water system we have not had to replace our tanks, hot or cold, and our fixtures stay relatively clean. We do buy bottled water because we do not have a reverse osmosis, but for us, a family of two, we use 4 gallons a week that averages about $200.00 a year. I cook and wash dishes with our water with no ill effects even before we had our water system.

I guess what it boils down to is everyone has to examine their own individual situation and see if it will be a benefit to them or not. As in our case, if we were in the district I would vote not to have it, but I m sure those with shallow wells and larger families would see a benefit in this.

Carl 02 (not verified)
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Sally, The cost to put in the water district is charged only to the people in the water district. This is not a tax. As for real property taxes yours are going to go up no matter where you live in New York State.

Sally Waldron
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Thank you for the clarification, I was a bit concerned that those that were not in the districts would have to help foot the bill for this but after further thought realized that it really didn't make allot of sense. Smile

Doug Yeomans
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Carl, I pour over the thebatavian every day and have never seen the topic mentioned. I'm probably not looking in the correct location on the site.

If you have high bacteria counts in the well, shock treat it with chlorine. I put the chlorine into the well, run the water in the house until I smell the chlorine and then I run a garden hose from the house to the well and allow it to circulate for a couple hours. I then flush the system until the water runs clean and I can no longer smell chlorine. Don't forget to bypass water softeners and RO units first!

You can light your water on fire? I'd love to see that and video it!

Personally, I like the population of Bethany just the way it is. I can't stand it when I drive around and see tillable land being dug up for houses and wind turbines. In the early 80's I worked on a horse farm in Mendon and there were beautiful, rolling fields everywhere. Now I just about cry when I drive through there and see how all of those fields are now covered by houses and condos. Building houses doesn't always mean progress.

Sally Waldron
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I agree with you Doug, we love the rural look of Bethany and do not feel that more houses make a successful neighborhood. This is one of the reasons we love to live here, we are rural but close enough to Batavia to get the things we need. If we wanted to live in the City we would move there.

I guess we are like Elba, where their signs say population just right, lol.

As for the comment on people not wanting to live in Bethany because of the water, why are there not more empty houses? Actually houses in Bethany don't stay on the market long due to the school districts, especially if they are in the Alexander district. The house across from us sold in less than a year even with sulfur water.

Sorry but the comment about no one wanting to live in Bethany just because of the water just got to me for some reason.....

Matt Hendershott
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While I can understand certain peoples view on not wanting public water, I can not understand the view of the people this doesn't even effect voicing so loud of an opinion over it. I want municipal water. Who are you to tell me otherwise? I have a water softener, my parents next door have a more substantial water treatment system next door. We are not asking for your opinion on how to spend our money to treat our water. ESPECIALLY when you are not even a voice in the matter. One person specifically which I understand has a very old house and is not concerned with its appearance, and he is an older gentleman. He has lived this way his whole life and has no want or reason to change now. That is his reasoning and absolutely correct from his perspective. Mine however, is different. My home is 8 years old. I am 30 and will live here for the rest of my life. As I posted on the FB post, my appliances both dishwasher and washer are destroyed. 8 years old. My water system is 8 years old. And I have come home 4 times already in the past couple years to burst fittings from corrosion flooding my basement. I am willing to pay to save my home in the long run from the curses of replumbing, the time spent cleaning iron stains from my 8 year old showers, toilets and replacing my appliances every 8-10 years. My treated water looks AND smells acceptable out of the tap. It tastes terrible. So we still buy drinking water. We buy salt by the bag and haul it down the stairs to a stained corner of my basement where my 8 year old water system is kept. No thanks, I would rather have that corner of the basement empty, sans a water meter and clean. I would rather avoid my wife and I carrying heavy bags down stairs and still having stains after a week. I have a neighbor only two houses down that has very decent water. With a water system less extensive than my parents produces drinking water that is drinkable. Mine is not. My parents is not. I invite any one who will actually be in the water district and who's voice matters to come to my home. I will show you everything I have described. I will gladly give you a bottle of water from my tap to drink and tell me what you think. Or better yet, I will pour you a bottle of clear water. And just carry it around while i show you the galvanized fittings I have replaced that have been eaten away by my water and within 5 minutes you can look at that bottle you are holding to see it is not clear. It is brown. And then, you are welcome to drink it. If you dare.

What I am getting at in the long run is this. Everyone has an opinion based on how their situation is, which makes them all correct. However, the only ones that really need to voice that opinion are the ones effected. Which more than the fair share of posters in this thread are not.

And to add, as a contributing fire service member to this community I would much rather have an engine show up on scene in January and hit a hydrant in front of my house, than a tanker and engine 2+ miles round trip away trying to break ice in a pond to draft water while my house is burning and my children are potentially stuck. My taxes have gone up twice recently for NO reason what so ever. Why not have water to show for it.

Bob Price
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Carl-from the locations that Loy posted above,it sounds like you're still gonna be screwed-I see no mention of the line going down Clipnock to the Stafford line??

Sally Waldron
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Matt anyone that lives in Bethany has a right to discuss this because even though it is not affecting us now does not mean that it will not in the future. So I feel that yes I do have a right to speak out about this since I live in Bethany. I think it is called freedom of speech, and when it concerns my possible future then I will have a say in it.

Obviously where you are at the water is worse than on the center road sounds to me like it is allot of iron if your water is brown.

I have lived here over 25 years in this over 100 year home with sulfur water and have gone through 2 washing machines prior to our water system and one well pump. Our pipes have never burst but that is probably because we have plastic instead of metal, which includes the fittings. Once we got more expensive fixtures we have had no problems at all with them corroding.

As for the stains, try Kaboom or a product called the Works, it is fantastic on getting out the rust stains on our new tub and vanity.

Loy Gross
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How did I miss that? My apologies - one of the first proposed districts runs down Transit, across East Bethany-LeRoy, and back up Clipnock. Sorry about that.

Carl, I'm sorry but to be honest, I think you're asking the wrong question. The question is not "Do you want public water?" The question is "How much are you realistically prepared to pay for public water?" Better still, "How much can your already-stretched family budget allow for public water?"

For some folks, you'll be talking about tripling their tax bill.

Matt Hendershott
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I don't want to try new stuff. I want a guaranteed solution that I am willing to pay for. Why don't you try municipal water? Oh because you don't want it. Same principal. Im sick of the effort involved. I have better things to do with my life than watch my efforts to keep my house nice go on for not. And as for the freedom of speech thing. You really don't have a say. At all except on an internet forum. When it comes down to it. You will not have a petition form to sign. The only thing you are doing, is influencing people who live in the district and read this who might not have a real opinion and would other wise let it happen and pay the deposit for the future option. I would put money on it if positions were swapped, you would have my feelings on the matter.

I can't fathom how you feel responsible to push against something that has no effect on you because you live close. Maybe we should hear some opinions from stafford, and town of batavia residents telling you that you are wrong. They are not effected by this but im sure you would not like them speaking for it. Have you ever showered in city water? I would give up an awful lot to feel like that every day. Not one person in a municipal water district that I have met yet has said it was not worth the money or improved their lives. I cited before my neighbor who has great water, and another individual who doesn't but does not want to change it. I also said they where correct. They live in the effected district and if they don't sign the petition I can't blame them. As for your "more expensive fixtures" I am glad you have expensive fixtures. Mine are 8 years old and were not cheap. Stop over and check out our water. Or my fish tank collection that I can't fill from my tap. Or the pool we truck water in for. Try washing your vehicles in my water, im sure the teal colored truck your husband has will look great with crusted water spots on it. Mine does. I would greatly respect your opinion on the matter, because it applys to your life and not mine, IF of course you where effected by it.

Also, to the person who said you like Bethany the way it is and don't want to live in the city of batavia I find your comment disturbing. Clearly you do not grasp the concept. It would be a closer comparison to the town of Batavia, and the town is a very nice place.

Sally Waldron
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You know Matt, you really don't have to get so snotty about it, people discuss things all the time that do not pertain to them. And my husbands truck is not teal it's smoke gray, Wink.

I think you are more worried that people are going to stop and actually think about the financial obligations that this entails instead of just jumping on the band wagon and then loosing their homes when they can't afford the bill.

I don't think I would feel the same in your position because I am always willing to listen to anyone who has a say and sometime a third party shed light on options that I would never had considered in the first place.

By the way the next time you see my niece Julie tell her I said hi!

kevin kretschmer
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People that think public water is too expensive should think long and hard about this sentence from the article; "Public water will also mean fire hydrants in the town and more effective firefighting." A private well with the greatest filtration system in the world won't do you much good if your house burns to the ground.

Structure fires are in the local news fairly regularly where getting water to the scene is an issue. Remember the major conflagration in downtown Castile last year? I know having a hydrant within 100' of my house is very reassuring and I'm quite surprised that some are actually reluctant to have such a practical modern convenience readily available if given the option.

Carl 02 (not verified)
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To all the people in the proposed water district on Clappsadle Rd, Transit Rd north of East Bethany - LeRoy Rd, Clipnock Rd, Torrey Rd. Little Canada Rd, Little Canada Ext, Fargo Rd, Rt 63 from Clappsadle to East Bethany-LeRoy Rd,Paul Rd from Rt63 to the creek, Old East Rd, East Rd to Jericho and East Bethany-LeRoy Rd from rt63 to Transit, IF YOU WANT PUBLIC WATER OR NOT CALL 585-343-1399 give name and address in Bethany and let the town board know YES or NO to public water. YOU the people in this defined area need to make this call. As for the people outside this area thank you for your comments and you will get a chance to let the town board know how you feel because there will be people knocking on your door soon to sign or not to sign a petition for a water district in your area of Bethany. There are others out there that are looking at doing the same thing as we in the East Bethany area are doing so you will get a chance to have your say when it comes to your area.

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