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DEC provides USGS $116,500 to study Tug Hill aquifer

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Thursday announced its award of $116,500 to the U.S. Geological Survey to study the Tug Hill aquifer.

The aquifer covers multiple municipalities in Jefferson and Oswego counties. The survey, scheduled to be finished by September 2014, will analyze the aquifer’s capacity and overall water quality, and its limitations for use.

“It will provide the necessary science and data for local decision makers on the allocation of aquifer water resources as demand rises,” said John K. Bartow Jr., executive director of the Tug Hill Commission. “How this resource is allocated is critical to the future of the environment and rural economy of the Tug Hill region.”

In addition to the DEC’s award, the federal agency will contribute $95,768 to complete the study, pegging the overall study cost at $212,286. The DEC’s funding for the study comes from its Environmental Protection Fund.

“The Tug Hill region is renowned for its fishing opportunities, attracting thousands of anglers and tourists each year,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement. “This assessment of the Tug Hill aquifer will help support continued residential development and economic growth, while sustaining its world class Salmon River habitat.”

Water demands have been growing in recent years from both municipalities and business entities. “Fresh water is a critical asset to our tourism and recreation infrastructure, as well as the drinking supply for our communities,” said Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University and co-chairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. “The scientific data derived from this study will provide the basis for future decisions that ensure we are stewarding this resource for its most effective use today as well as for future generations.”

The press release about the study said it would need homeowners to allow sampling of their well water. Those interested are asked to contact Edward Bugliosi at 607-266-0217 x3005 (or email ebuglios@usgs.gov).

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