The Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) is assuring customers that they're tryng to get out in front of water problems, such as is failing infrastructure and toxic threats to water quality. But their investments in safe and secure water will have an impact on water bills in the future.
OCWA is behind maintaining the water infrastructure that pumps and delivers on average more than 36.5-million gallons of water daily to 500-thousands residential and business customers. Wednesday they paused a moment to take part in the national event “A Day Without Water” to focus on one of our most precious natural resources.
“If you think about it, you know, you wouldn’t have your morning coffee without a water supply, you don’t get to take your daily shower, you wouldn’t be able to put out a fire…it’s an important thing that way. You wouldn’t have restaurants open. Hospitals couldn’t operate if they didn’t have a viable water supply and the list kind of goes on and on.,” said OCWA Executive Director Mike Hooker.
Hooker adds OCWA has invested over $104 million since 2010, including placing covers on reservoirs and a new water treatment plant in Marcellus. The next large-scale $40-60 million investment will be the Lake Ontario pumping station. It delivers more than 50 percent of the total water supply throughout Onondaga County and surrounding counties, minus the city of Syracuse.
“With the evaluation we’re looking at, the clear water storage…it was adequate storage in the 1960s for the plant, based on the current rules, but what we’re doing now is a yearlong evaluation of the plant to look at how it works, how can it improve…looking at the current regulations, making sure that it will be viable for the long term.”
Chief Engineer Jeff Miller explains that it’s important for OCWA stay ahead of any potential water infrastructure problems to avoid contaminated water situations like in Flint, Michigan and Hoosick falls in upstate New York. For that, they go with the flow and track it.
“How much water’s coming out of the facilities and where it’s going helps us to identify any leaks in the system ahead of time and really be proactive in going after leaks and repairing all the water means in facilities.”
He adds they take about 350 water samples monthly, more than the federally required amounts, to look for contaminants or algal blooms. He says our area is very fortunate to have an abundance of clean water.
Hooker adds the county uses availability of water as a factor in economic developing, trying to attract companies whose businesses are water-dependant formm areas where the resource is harder to come by.