Potsdam awarded $4.78 million grant and loan package for new Unionville Water District
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 1:59 pm

 Updated 2:10 p.m. Oct. 16, 2019.

 BY CRAIG FREILICH
North Country This Week

POTSDAM – With the announcement of $4.78 million in grants and loans for a long-awaited water project, the Town of Potsdam is that much closer to preparing a new water district along State Rt. 56 north of the village.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development grant is $3,125,000 for a new water distribution system near where LC Drives, an innovative motor manufacturer, has proposed building a factory that could employ 200 people.

The town will also receive low-interest loans of $1,657,000 from USDA.

The project includes a 200,000-gallon water storage tank that will provide the average daily demand of 22,500 gallons as well as fire flows for the users along the proposed Rt 56 Unionville Water District at Sissonville Road water district. It also services individuals who now have individual dug or drilled wells.

Other aspects of the project include upgrades to then existing water treatment plant, larger pumps and wells, high-lift pumps for distribution and the installation of water mains along Rt. 56, plus fire hydrants, according to Kevin Feuka of consulting firm C2AE in Canton, which is helping the town with planning and funding.

“The grant amount equaling 65% of the total project cost is a significant federal investment in a community that desperately needs the support,” Feuka said.

The town now awaits news of aid grants for an accompanying sewer system they have applied for totaling $5.5 million.

This funding is a significant development since the water and sewer district plan was envisioned for a reliable good-quality water supply that would bring in more business, improve property values and raise the tax base.

It is also a boost in favor of LC Drives plan for the factory here.

It could “definitely drive down the project cost, making it more attractive,” said LC Drives Director of Strategic Planning Devon Sutton.

Sutton said the funding for the factory is ongoing, and while the factory “is not funded yet,” the grant and loan support for the water district is “certainly a factor” in favor of the Potsdam site. “It’s definitely a plus.”

She said LC Dives’ local employment has reached 40 people with a goal of 50 by the end of the year.

“The new water system extension will be a tremendous benefit to Potsdam residents and businesses that struggle with poor well yields and water quality,” Feuka said. “It also presents tremendous opportunity for growth of existing businesses and the proposed LC Drives at the northeast area of the proposed water district. Supporting the LC Drives venture can help create up to 200 new jobs in the Town and North Country region. On behalf of the Town, we are very grateful for this financial support,” he said.

As is the custom, the announcement of the federal support was made by the local member of Congress, Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

“I am excited to announce the USDA has awarded this significant funding to support the upgrade and the construction of a new distribution system for the Potsdam community,” said Stefanik. “This opportunity to provide safer, cleaner water and better infrastructure is a huge success for the Town of Potsdam. I am proud to continue to be a strong advocate for the rural development of our region.”