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Essex gets cash for new sewer system

ESSEX - The town of Essex will soon begin work installing a public sewer system thanks to two hefty grants from the state and federal governments.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of $34.3 million in water and environmental projects across New York State that are being funded immediately through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Among the 13 towns selected was Essex, which received a $2.3 million grant and $100,000 direct loan. The funds will supplement a $4 million grant and $1 million loan awarded to the project in early July from the Environmental Facilities Corp., a state agency charged with distributing regionally granted stimulus funds.

Supervisor Ron Jackson said the USDA grant comes as welcome news.

"This means that, unless the bids come in very crazy, we're going to be building a sewer system in the town of Essex," he said.

Essex is the last lakeshore town on either side of the lake to install a public sewer and wastewater treatment system. Jackson said it was not for lack of trying.

"For 55 years, we have put in a lot of sweat equity to get to this point," he said, adding that the sewer system will not only benefit the lake, but could bring new businesses to the town and help the many residents struggling with wastewater issues.

"In Essex, because of the clay soil, there are two types of septic systems," said Jackson, "those that have failed and those that will fail in the near future."

Jackson said he is hoping for further grants to help the town install a municipal water system, as the state Department of Health is pressuring the town to stop using surface water from the lake.

"It would be wonderful to install both at the same time," he said.

Jackson credited representatives in state and federal government on both sides of the lake for securing the stimulus funding including Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, State Sen. Elizabeth Little, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Jim Jeffords.

"It's been a project with wide support and we're very grateful for all the people who helped us," said Jackson.

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