Bedford town officials and guests gathered Saturday morning for the dedication of the new water filtration plant, a milestone that signals the end of a long saga.
The plant, which resembles a barn and is located along Route 35 in Katonah, serves residents and merchants in Katonah and Bedford Hills who reside in the Consolidated Water District.
Department of Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn, who was proud to celebrate with the town board and residents, called it “a significant accomplishment for the town.”
The history behind the plant began around 2002 when it was discovered that some municipal wells had contaminants such as nitrate, Winn explained. If more well capacity could not be used then the town risked not having redundancy or being able to have supply enough during the summer, he added.
Several solutions were explored, including adding well capacity. However, contamination was discovered from a 2004 drilling of test wells. Also considered was connecting to Mount Kisco and New Castle for their water.
Finally, the the solution picked was to connect to water directly from New York City, which also owns the property where the plant was built. The water, Winn said, comes from the city's Delaware Aqueduct further north, while the nearby Cross River Reservoir serves as a backup.
The plant was designed in 2009, construction started in 2010 and use started in June, according to Winn. The cost, which will be paid off due to bonding, is nearly $22 million. The state's Department of Corrections, which will take advantage of the water for its prison in Bedford Hills, will pay for a quarter of the debt service.
Getting water from the city is common for the area.
“About 85 percent of Westchester County gets their water from New York City," Winn said.
Supervisor Lee Roberts called it “tremendously signifcant for our town” and added there is a source of potable water for residents that is “the best in the world.”
The plant is going through a transition phase for now, with some remaining well water mixing in. This is because the plant is going through a demonstration period for Westchester County's Department of Health. Winn hopes it will end in nine to 12 months.