LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The county government received the $17 million promised as part of the settlement with Akzo Nobel Salt Inc. to prevent future public health problems related to the mine collapse of 1994.
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County Administrator Ian Coyle updated members of the Board of Supervisors that the money has been received and put into their respective accounts: $11 million for county water supply infrastructure improvement, repair and maintenance related to the incident; $5 million for surface water and water supply improvement and protection projects; $1 million for environmental insurance. The settlement includes $3 million that the county may allow New York State to use for applicable monitoring of groundwater and wells to check for unhealthy levels of minerals.
“We do have the money, bearing interest, and we’re not in a rush to spend it,” said Coyle. “But it does have parameters associated with it that allows it to be spent. There was a purpose to putting the $5 million and $11 million and having that language in there.”
The money can be used if future public water problems arise that can be traced back to the mine collapse.
“The $11 million is also for future or exigent situations that could happen so we have some money to address some catastrophic thing that might happen,” said Coyle. “Obviously if it were truly catastrophic it’s going to cost more than that but we have some dollars available for those future situations.”
The funds could also go towards public water improvement projects, if they should arise.
“A lot of regional water talks that could potentially come into play,” said Coyle. “I know Genesee County, which potentially touches into York, Leicester, potentially even Mount Morris, they’ve been doing a lot of different big-picture water talks where they’re going to come down from MCWA Lake Ontario water, where there’s a lot of capacity, run through their network, and they’re looking at about a $25 million county-wide water upgrade. They’re now talking to neighboring counties Wyoming and Livingston Counties about what if any ideas we have on water expansion.”
But, Coyle added, “I don’t know if anything will ever touch this but again it’s in the area, the literal geographic area of what we’re talking about.”