LAKE PLACID - The village of Lake Placid hopes to send its trunk sewer line project out to bid early next year and begin construction in the spring.
The multi-million-dollar project, which has been in the works for years, will include the removal of a dam below Lower Mill Pond. Village Mayor Craig Randall said the project will likely take about a year to complete.
The village has permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. It's in the process of acquiring easements that are needed before the work can begin.
Village Mayor Craig Randall explains where the new trunk sewer line will be installed next year.
New trunk line
The DEC issued a consent order to the village in 2004, directing it to begin planning for the replacement of the trunk sewer line. In 2005, the village rebuilt its wastewater treatment plant, which Randall said "pretty much took care of any concerns about any discharges that we might physically have caused into the Chubb (River) and hence into the AuSable (River)."
Randall said the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant gave the village far more capacity than it will need to handle its users, but the main lines that feed into the plant, which carry sewage from the entire village, include two "very old clay lines," Randall said.
Brad Hathaway, superintendent of the village Department of Public Works, said one of the lines is a 24-inch trunk line that follows a bridle path on the east side of the Chubb River; the other is a 15-inch line that runs downstream on the other side of the river. The two lines connect to carry sewage to the plant, located at the end of Powerhouse Road.
"They're both very old, and we have numerous problems with them," Hathaway said. "It's the last big piece of our sewer infrastructure that really needs to be looked at. ... Once this is done, this will be the last really big project the village needs to take care of for a while."
The existing trunk sewer line is also at a lower elevation than the sewage plant. Hathaway said that creates maintenance problems during peak usage.
"You constantly have to keep cleaning it out," he said.
Hathaway said the new line will be built at a higher elevation. The new line is designed to "flow with gravity," Randall said.
"If we had to put in a deeper line, it would undoubtedly mean installing lift stations," he said.
The new 27-inch line will be made of plastic, and wherever it crosses the river, it will be encased in a steel sleeve, Hathaway said.
The project will require the village to dismantle the dam below Power Pond. Randall said the village has investigated the potential to create energy by using the dam, but the cost would be too great.
"Even though we could install a turbine there and generate power, it would be very little," he said. "In comparison to the cost, the engineers estimated it would be about a 100-year payback, which is no payback."
The dam was originally built to create a reservoir of water to feed a turbine that was removed in 1956. Randall said the amount of water flowing through the Chubb River is too low to generate a meaningful amount of power.
"Any useful service that this dam could give us has gone away," the mayor said.
Randall said the dam would need repairs totaling about $1 million to bring it into compliance with New York state requirements.
Removing the dam will make the trunk sewer line project less expensive, Randall said. Additionally, Hathaway said draining Power Pond and restoring the Chubb River to its original flow will allow for the new line to be installed along the river's edge.
When Power Pond is drained, the village won't leave a muddy swamp behind, Randall said. The village has designed a proposed "green space" to take the place of the pond, he said.
Randall said the green space, which would include trails alongside the Chubb River, could eventually link up with North Elba's planned bike path, as well as mountain bike trails on land owned by the Lussi family.
"That begins to show some of the wisdom of how Lake Placid can have something that many resort communities have had for years - I think of Stowe with that gorgeous bicycle trail they've got around their community," Randall said. "We can have something very similar in time."
The village recently submitted grant proposals to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council totaling $5.3 million. Randall said that includes $1.2 million for restoration of the Chubb River.
"We also know that the federal government has money for dam decommissioning where the dams are deemed to be unnecessary," Randall said.
The village will also apply for low-interest loans through the state Environmental Facilities Corporation. The loans would be paid back over a long period of time, Randall said, and be factored into water and sewer rates.
The hope, Randall said, is to fund as much of the project as possible with grant money. But he noted the village is still paying back an $18 million bond that paid for the new sewer plant.
The village should hear back about the grants by mid-November, Randall said.