By LINDA MCALPINE Daily News
TOWN OF JACKSON — With an April 27 deadline looming, town officials as well as many residents face a tough decision on tapping into the village of Jackson’s water system.
Officials from the town and village, and representatives from the pipeline company and the Department of Natural Resources have worked together on a plan to get clean water to those in need.
Residents who have been living on bottled water since the spill because of the benzene contamination in their wells and those who have uncontaminated wells but live along the route of the new water line have until April 27 to choose to get municipal water service.
Patti Goodman, one of the town residents who crowded into Town Hall for a special Town Board meeting, said while her well is not contaminated, she is concerned about what may happen.
“I lived in the village and moved to the town where we would have well water. I don’t like the taste of the village water,” she said. “I don’t understand why I should have to connect to village water and have a water bill, but I’m also concerned about what would happen if, five years down the road, my well would get contaminated. Would I be able to hook up to the village’s water then?”
Town Engineer Matt Clementi said if someone opted out now but wanted village water later, installing it would be their expense. The agreement between the town, village and West Shore stipulates the pipeline company will only pay for the connections now.
Goodman wasn’t the only person in the audience to express their frustration during the public comment.
“I don’t care what it costs West Shore. This should be about making it right. They seem to want to make us at fault for living here,” town resident Tim Dano said. “I want it to be back the way it was. I don’t want a water bill.”
Clementi said West Shore has not said if the company will pay the water bills for those residents who connect to the village system.
Work has already started on putting the pipes that will carry village water to those who choose to hook up.
Some residents could get water service by mid-May, Town Chairman Raymond Heidtke said.
The town, which has two wells on the Town Hall property, was faced with the same decision about village water.
The board voted to opt out of connecting to the village water system, with Heidtke casting the only no vote. Heidtke said he thought the town should opt in, but that he was OK with how the vote turned out.
Town Supervisor Dan Kufahl said the town owns land that is beyond what has been designated as a “safe casing area,” so if at some point, a new well was needed either because of growth or contamination, it would be possible to drill one.