Potsdam working to find why treatment plant is producing excess water
Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 5:17 pm

BY CRAIG FREILICH

North Country This Week

POTSDAM -- The village water treatment plant seems to be creating about 180,000 gallons a day more of municipal water than averages would suggest is usual, but they don’t know where it’s going after it leaves the plant.

Since about the second week of November, an unknown source of demand has been calling for the 180,000 gallons a day “and it’s been fairly consistent,” said Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator Brian Page.

When the colleges are in session, the plant typically treats 1.2 million gallons a day for municipal consumption, and about 800,000 gallons a day when they are away.

If just one or two customers had increased demand that much, it would be showing up in water bills, but that hasn’t been found.

And if customers had been using that much more, the wastewater treatment plant would be showing an increase in the amount they treat, but Page said that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Page said he thinks it might be “going out the storm drain” from a leak that hasn’t been found yet.

He said he traveled the whole town looking for low spots where water from a leak could have collected, but found nothing unusual, such as new ponds or pools.

“Most customer water meters are read quarterly, so I don’t think it’s customer use,” he said.

He said he thinks it’s going out the storm drain because tests are “picking up chlorine in the old Cross Town Canal outlet” in storm water at the Raquette River drain that wouldn’t normally have that much chlorine in it.

He’s not sure how it’s getting to the storm drain, but the first place he wants to check is the water lines that cross the old drainage canal. That canal is not a sealed pipe, and was designed more than 100 years ago to bring excess rainwater from farm fields east of downtown to the river. In the time it has been there, many newer lines have crossed the canal.

Page says he wants to work with the New York Rural Water Association, a non-profit member association, which might have the leak detection equipment he can use to find where the loss is occurring.