Proposed solution for customers of the Willsboro Bay Water Company

The Town of Willsboro has proposed taking over the Willsboro Bay Water Company (WBWC) by forming a Seasonal Water District. The first step was to present the Town with an informal petition indicating that the property owners in the area currently serviced by the WBWC are in favor of beginning the process by having the Town hire an engineer to prepare a map and report on the costs of forming a new seasonal water district. The Map, Plan & Report, as well as the preliminary engineering study have been completed and the next step is the Public Information Meeting Wednesday 8/31/16.

UPDATE: 9/7/16

The public hearing on the seasonal water system that was scheduled for next Wednesday (Sept 14) must be postponed. During legal review, the Town identified a NYS requirement that the final Map, Plan & Report must be formally filed with the Town Clerk and available for public inspection prior to the public hearing being scheduled. As soon as the final Report is filed, the Town will re-schedule the public hearing. It is anticipated that this will take approximately 30 days. Please check with this website for updates.

UPDATE: 8/17/16

The engineering Map, Plan & Report has been completed. The engineering study of the condition of the existing seasonal water distribution system has also been completed and was presented to the Town Board on August 17, 2016. The analysis showed that while the water quality provided to the seasonal system by the Town of Willsboro is excellent, the distribution system is inadequate and must be replaced. The primary concerns with the existing system (which is more than 40 years old) are that the water pressure is inadequate and the system is leaking substantial water resource. Also due to the poor design of the existing distribution system the chlorine levels deteriorate during water transmission through the outdated system.

UPDATE: 9/9/15

At the Town of Willsboro Board meeting held on September 9th, the Board accepted the Petitions to evaluate the Town operating the seasonal water system for Willsboro Bay. The Petition was supported by a 94.3% “YES” vote for the Town proceeding with the engineering evaluation known as a “Map, Plan & Report”. The full Petition Voting Report can be found to the left as a Powerpoint presentation or a PDF.

The Town Board agreed to seek Request For Proposal (RFP) from regional engineering firms to complete the study. An engineer will be selected at the regular Town Board meeting as soon as the engineering proposals are received.

We will attempt to keep this information up-to-date so that everyone has open and equal access to the progress on this project. Thank you for your support.

Short History

For several years, the owners of the Willsboro Bay Water Company (WBWC) have indicated that they wished to get out of the water business. While trying to accomplish this, they have continued to supply seasonal water to the camps in the Bay Lane / Tunnel Road / Cove Lane areas. While previous suggested solutions did not come to fruition, on July 22, 2015 the Town held an informational meeting to once again address the issue.

As presented by the Town Supervisor (Shaun Gillilland) and Town Attorney (Bob Hafner), there seem to be three options:
  1. Do nothing. The WBWC would cease operation and the affected property owners would be on their own. This is very problematic for several reasons. Many of the affected properties are "land locked" in that they either are not contiguous with the lake as a source of potable water or their land parcel is too small to support both a well and septic system. There is also very substantial up-front cost for either a lake water pumping/filtering system or a well. Given the geology of the area (bedrock & clay), the potential contamination of well water by septic water is very high for at least some of the property locations. Note carefully that WBWC has the legal right to file for an abandonment of the WBWC system without provisions for future water service to its customers.
  2. Form a private Homeowners Association (HOA) to take over the WBWC. The Association would be responsible for purchasing the water from the town, bringing the existing system up to code, maintaining the system and billing the users. This option has been thoroughly explored over the last three years and is not viable. An HOA does not have authority to either tax property owners nor can it bond long-term to finance system upgrades. As a private entity, it would be subject to at least five regulatory bodies and would also be extremely difficult to apply for any public grant funding. There is very substantial engineering and legal cost up-front with this alternative with no guarantee of a water solution after the evaluation and preliminary legal work are complete. There is essentially no public support for this option.
  3. Petition the Town to form a Seasonal Water District. Property owners in the service area of the WBWC would ask the town to take over the system and would pay additional taxes to cover the costs. This is clearly the best option for the majority of property owners in our community. The Town of Willsboro is now willing to consider accepting and operating the seasonal water system from WBWC if there is broad public support. The Town has the legal authority, personnel and expertise to properly operate the seasonal water system on a permanent basis. And WBWC has agreed to transfer their seasonal water system to the Town of Willsboro for very minimal cost.
Consensus at the meeting was to pursue the third option of petitioning the Town to take over the operation and maintenance of the WBWC seasonal water system. The onus is now on us to indicate to the Town that a sufficient number of property owners want to move forward.