Imagine living in an area without clean drinking water. Now imagine it's right here in Central New York. That's the reality for people in the Town of Lenox. They're planning to build their first-ever water pipeline. And as our Kat De Maria tells us, they may be doing it with some federal help.
TOWN OF LENOX, N.Y. -- Arthur Carlson can't drink the water in his own house. He's lived there, in the town of Lenox in Madison County, since 1985. When did Carlson stop drinking the water?
"I never drank the water here," he said.
Carlson said the water contains iron, which is rusting his pipes, utensils and more, but also coliform bacteria, which signals bad water. Carlson found out by having it tested and having the samples fail. His neighbors found out other ways.
"I kept getting infections, I kept getting sore throats and stuff like that. So I started brushing my teeth with bottled water," said Ruth Yates.
Carlson too keeps a ready supply of bottles and jugs to clean his toothbrush, brew his morning coffee and more. The area is rural, with wells, and quiet. But it was busy Monday when Senator Charles Schumer visited to pledge support for a ten-mile water pipeline to Carlson's and some 300 other homes. Under Schumer's plan, support would come in the form of a federal grant to defray the $3.5 million cost of the line.
"It's an important investment. But homeowners shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg for basic rights like clean water," Schumer said.
As of right now, families in Lenox would each have to pay $600 a year for just about 40 years to have the water line. They say they can't afford it and they're hoping the senator, and the federal grant can help.
"There's no question we have to cut waste and fat out of the government There's tons of that. But the government should also be doing important things that help people. And this is one of those things," Schumer said.
If federal money comes in, the project is otherwise ready to go. Carlson suspects he could have fresh, clean water as early as the fall. And he'll be able to drink it, in his home, for the first time.
"Wonderful," he said.
The proposed pipeline to the Town of Lenox would bring water from the Onondaga County Water Authority. It would also allow for fire hydrants, in case of emergency.