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Cape town officials mull new rules for water districts

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CAPE VINCENT — The Town Council has tentatively agreed to a set of rules that, if enacted, would prohibit public water users in Cape Vincent from making unauthorized connections and reselling water to neighboring properties.

“You can’t do any other extensions and you can’t resell. In other words, the only one that’s billing for water use should be the town,” Councilman Clifford P. Schneider said. “If you’re going to be an outside user, you have to come forward to the town on why you want to be an outside user, and you have to sign a contract that’s agreeable to the town and the town’s attorney.”

This uniform set of rules would apply to all of Cape Vincent’s water districts, including District 2, where the town suspects a dozen unauthorized hookups were made.

Created in 1997, Water District 2 has three sanctioned users: former Town Councilman Donald J. Mason, Wesley A. Bourcy and state Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine and his wife, Margaret S., who own a Hell Street property.

The district draws water from the Development Authority of the North Country’s regional water line on Favret Road.

District 2 residents have said they oppose the town board’s plan to extend the district to include outside users and take control of water lines that were installed entirely with private funds.

But Cape Vincent officials, who have said that these unauthorized extensions are a health and liability concern for the entire town, want private water lines in Water District 2 to be thoroughly assessed and outside users to be recognized appropriately.

After an unsuccessful attempt to map private connections made to Water District 2 and get the state comptroller’s office to launch an investigation, town officials started drafting rules aiming to get all water users into compliance.

Officials also tentatively agreed to have the proposed rules require outside users to allow inspections of connections and testing of water quality at water meters and at homes at the town’s discretion.

If the rules are adopted, outside users will be given six months to correct any problems with the connection. Until the connection is brought into compliance, a backflow prevention device will be installed at the intersection of the connection between the user within the district that connected them and the outside user at the authorized user’s expense.

Both authorized user and unauthorized user “may be subject to termination of service and/or a penalty per day” if not in compliance within the six-month time frame, under the draft rules.

“We’d have to go through the normal protocols to create a law. We’re just having an internal discussion amongst board members as to stuff that we have a consensus about. Once we have a consensus, we can go forward and put it forward for review,” Deputy Supervisor Brooks J. Bragdon said.

Mr. Bragdon said the proposal would be posted on the town of Cape Vincent website, and subject to a public comment period and a formal hearing before it can be adopted into town law.

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