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Moriah lands surprise grant

Water service to be extended

— A group of Moriah residents will get town water service this year thanks to an unexpected grant.

The town has received $1.9 million to create a water district in the Forge Hollow, Elk Inn Road and Stone Street area.

“I always try to stay optimistic, but I was very concerned that we’d receive any grant money with the current state and federal budget problems,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “I’m pleased the project can go forward.”

The town board will open bids for the project at its Sept. 13 meeting. Construction is expected to begin immediately and be completed this fall.

When a bid is awarded, a meeting will be scheduled with area residents to explain the construction process.

There are about 30 homes in the area. The town had not formed a water district there because state would not approve it, citing the high cost of construction for a small number of homes.

A village of Port Henry water transmission line runs through the area. Although the water is untreated at that point — and the area is outside the village limits — the village supplied those residents with water for the last 50 years.

However, after several illnesses linked to the untreated water were reported, Scozzafava said, the state Department of Health ordered the village to cease providing the untreated water. The town of Moriah then sought a hardship grant from the state.

The grant, federal money awarded through the state, was approved.

“It’s a Godsend for that area,” Scozzafava said. “I don’t know what we would have done without the grant money. There would have been 30 homes without water.”

Scozzafava credited Rep. Bill Owens, state Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward for their assistance in securing the grant money.

Thanks to the grant, the water project will have no impact on the town budget or water rates. The Forge Hollow, Elk Inn Road and Stone Street area residents will pay $280 a year for water, the same as other Moriah residents.

The extended water service will help the town as a whole, Scozzafava explained. The new water customers will pay a portion of the costs to operate the water filtration plant, which will lower that expense for others. The water service will also make that area available for construction, which would add to the town tax base.

“There’s a lot of vacant land in that area,” Scozzafava said. “With water available the area can be developed. I hope we’ll see some new homes built there.”

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