Tom Becker said the town had three options when they were down to their last water system operator. They could hire another, although they are few, pricey and often too distant. They could hire a private company, which would cost $8-9000 per month. Or they could hire Becker part time.
The board hired Becker part-time for $30,000 a year. Becker summed up his plan: “When I leave at the end of the year, my goal for the town is to have three operators to keep the town’s water districts running smoothly.”
Over the past two years the town lost a water operator, who passed away unexpectedly, leaving the town with only one water operator. Tom Becker was town councilman then and retired water commissioner for the Village of Chester. He volunteered his time to help the operator until a new licensed operator could be hired.
However, last year long-time water operator Bill Keller retired, leaving the town with only one operator again. Finding a licensed operator can be difficult, so the Town hired a laborer who will go through the process of getting the required water licenses. This still left the town out of Orange County Department of Health (DOH) compliance.
The DOH requires two licensed operators for a town the size of Chester. As water administrator, Becker brings the Town into compliance with the DOH, with two water operators on staff with the required licenses.
Becker says he hopes to continue the efforts he began as a town councilman. He particularly wants to create a new source of water for the Walton Lake Estates water district, as they have a history of issues such as high sodium levels and inadequate water capacity. Chester has five water districts: Fieldcrest, Lake Hill Farms, including parts of Windridge Complex; Sugar Loaf Hills, Surry Meadows and Walton Lake Estates.
Becker said he will review the certifications needed by both operators and arrange for the training required to create a safe working environment. He plans to work with the town’s current water operator, Chris Cox, on any issues that may arise within any of the town’s water districts while guiding the new water laborer, John Mardula, through the certification process.
Becker also said he hopes the town will hire another laborer, so he can train the new hire in the licensing processes, and the town will have the water employees needed for their future.
For more information on the town’s water department, including rates: https://chester-ny.gov/town-departments/water-department/
The next town of Chester board meeting will be held on January 26th at 7:00 p.m.