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Clymer Receives Water Project Recommendation

The Clymer Town Board recently voted to move forward on its water project. P-J photo by Sara Holthouse

CLYMER — Now that Clymer has formally accepted a grant for water system upgrades, the town board is looking toward the next steps.

During a recent town board meeting, Matthew Zarbo with the firm Barton and Loguidice discussed what parts of the town’s water system need to be replaced.

The town has been awarded a $5 million state Water Infrastructure Improvement Act Grant to assist with the project, which is expected to cost $10.4 million in total.

“The scope of the project ultimately is adding a redundant new groundwater well,” Zarbo said. “You have two groundwater wells. You only use one. The one that you do not use is very high in nitrates; it’s above the DOH limits and it’s not water that you guys would want to drink. So, you’re largely operating off of one well, and if something happens to the well, that’s an issue.”

Zarbo said the town’s well situation was a main reason why Clymer was awarded the grant and a main issue that will need to be addressed with the grant. Other issues to be addressed: 27,000 linear feet of water vein that is either antiquated or has asbestos; a new water storage tank; new controls to monitor the system; and replacing water meters.

An income survey of the entire water district found that 56.47% of households were below the median county threshold of $76,300, putting Clymer in hardship status. Zarbo said this is a positive thing in relation to the project as it helped the town to get the grant, and opens the town up to a zero-interest rate for the next 30 years. It also allows for the town to increase the awarded grant from a 60% to 70% grant, though it will still be capped at $5 million.

The income survey helped in exploring other funding programs for the project, and the town of Clymer is also eligible for a Community Development Block Grant.

“Those applications aren’t due until about mid-July, but one thing that CDBG looks for is project readiness,” Zarbo said. “So now is the time to get ready for the project and the next step is really entering contracts with professional services … but I think your community has an excellent chance of getting that $1.25 million dollar grant if you follow the right steps like you’ve been doing all along.”

Water rates are expected to increase from about $250 to $600 a year for the community, which Zarbo said is a very reasonable and affordable rate. For affordability of the project, Zarbo estimates the town board can currently enter into a $1.962 million loan. He added that all numbers can be adjusted as the board sees fit, though the system, while not being completely new, will be basically a new system.

“Just because the mains have to be replaced, doesn’t mean they have to be replaced tomorrow,” Zarbo said. “This is something the community can plan over a number of years to do what’s best for the community based on how much the board feels the district can bite off at one time.”

While the board cannot afford the entire project right now, they can afford to begin the design process in some way. To get a CDBG grant, the board has to start planning the design process now, giving the ability to split the bids up into what can be afforded at the time.

Zarbo asked the board to decide if it was time to move forward with something in order to get started. He recommended starting with voting to allow the town clerk, Karen Foster, to advertise for engineers for the project. Town Supervisor Brian Willink said that for the grant that has already been received, the board has to enter into an agreement by Sept. 30, 2025.

The board voted and approved beginning to move forward with the project, allowing Foster to publicly advertise that the town is seeking qualification statements from professional engineering firms.

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