Ogdensburg water main replacement on Ford Street could cost $300,000

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OGDENSBURG — A series of recurring water main breaks along the Ford Street Extension this spring means city officials could have another costly infrastructure project to contend with.

There is a lengthy span of water main under outer Ford Street where five breaks recently occurred during a one-week period, according to Ogdensburg Department of Public Works Director Scott A. Thornhill. The unusual multiple ruptures —along a busy business and residential section of the city — have prompted the DPW chief to warn that more problems are likely without major repair.

“This section of pipe is in rough conditions and should be replaced in its entirety,” Mr. Thornhill said Friday. “I have had this engineered and we have identified approximately 1,500 feet to be replaced.”

The cost of replacing such a sizeable length of water main is estimated between $200,000 and $300,000, according to Mr. Thornhill. To offset the cost, he said the city is searching for potential grant opportunities. But if those can’t be found, the municipality may have to find a way to foot the bill itself.

Mr. Thornhill said ideally the water main replacement should take place within the next two years. However, he said the problem could be exacerbated if more breaks take place.

“If we continue to experience issues like we did this past spring with five breaks in a one-week period, we may have to look internally to find funds in our Water Fund to address this concern.” Mr. Thornhill said.

The water line where the breaches occurred on Ford Street are along a newer section of pipe, so age is not a factor. Mr. Thornhill said the reasons for the ongoing problems are likely either the condition of the soil or the manner in which the water line was originally installed.

“This is a newer section of pipe, but the soil conditions in this area are very corrosive,” Mr. Thornhill said. “And we assume that the handling of the pipe during installation might be suspect. We are trying to plan accordingly and will hold off on repair as long as we can.”

The worn out water main on Ford Street is the latest financial issue for the municipality to grapple with in a year where its fund balance is at an all time low. During last year’s budget the municipality raised taxes by 13 percent and made substantial cuts to outside agencies and within departments. City Manager Sarah Purdy has repeatedly warned City Council that there is little money in reserves for emergencies, and has been providing ongoing updates throughout the year to chart spending.

The city was also recently informed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that more soil testing needs to be done at the old Newell Manufacturing building on Patterson Street. The cost of that project is still unknown, but the money will have to come from internal sources, according to officials.

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