Cape Vincent Town Attorney Mark Gebo discusses water district #2 problems with town board and citizens.

The following is a transcript I prepared of a discussion that occurred at a recent special meeting between Cape Vincent water district customer Frank Giaquinto and Town of Cape Vincent Attorney Mark Gebo. Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Giaquinto had told the board that he was receiving a water bill. However, that water bill was not from the Town or from DANC, but from some other water seller.

Frank Giaquinto:   Mr. Gebo, where does the water (#2) district end?

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  The water district has geographic boundaries. There's a map that shows what the geographic boundaries of the district are. And typically, again, just for everybody's benefit, I don't think there's any ill intent by anybody here, OK? But, generally speaking when we deal with districts in a lot of towns, not just here, there's a concept of people who are inside the district and people who are outside the district. Like your farm is outside of the geographic boundaries of the district.

Generally speaking the regulatory agencies, when I've had to deal with them on these issues, don't like the concept of outside users. If you are going to add somebody from the district, that's fine. But, expand the geographic boundary and bring them in. For a variety of reasons.

That way you have shut-offs in place for each of the users so if there is a problem just for one user you haven't got to shut off three to deal with one person's problem. You do things like that. And it gives the town a better handle on what to expect in terms of  use, a better handle on handling something like a large break that might be affecting the usage of the system, it also makes it a little easier perhaps even to just monitor where leaks may be taking place based on meter usage and so on.

So, to answer your question, there are geographic boundaries to this district. The problem is that we have users who are drawing water through this district that are not within the geographic boundaries. I think one of the outcomes of this likely is that we will expand the boundaries so that everybody's inside of them.

Frank Giaquinto:  It would have been done if this was acknowledged.

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Right, right. Again, no ill intent. But now that we're aware of it, respect it, that's  all.

Frank Giaquinto:  I guess my question really is, where does the town liability end?  Does it end at the meter pit?

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  The town has liability throughout its entire geographic district.

Frank Giaquinto:  No, but regards to water.

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Well, We deliver potable water to what we call the point of connection which is, as you say, is at that meter pit. And, within the individual property that that pit serves, the owner has responsibility within their own property boundary. What's happening here is a little different because, for example, the water you're getting the town doesn't actually sell to you. It's being sold to you by somebody else. And, so who has the responsibility at your boundary? You could argue that it's the town because it's coming from a town district. And, If you had a problem with the quality of the water, might call the town and say, do something about it. I would expect you would. And, it wouldn't necessarily be wrong to do that. But, technically, we are not your water supplier. Your water supplier is your neighbor. Yes, Marty.

Marty Mason:  Alright. I agree with you Mark. OK, take David Docteur's trailer park. The water goes through a meter pit. Then it goes out through a distribution system. Right? It feeds every trailer. Someone gets sick in one of them trailers, whose responsibility is it?

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  They're going to have to prove where the water went bad. If it went bad inside his property line, he's going to be responsible for it. If it was bad at the meter, it's our problem. But, am I not incorrect in not thinking, too, that the department of health has regulations on trailer park users of the water they distribute? I don't know if that's true when they are on a municipal system. I know If they have their own system there's a lot of regulations.

Marty Mason:  But what's the difference between the trailer park and what water district two has?

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Because everything is within the geographic boundaries of the district.

Marty Mason: And, so isn't the...

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Well, Frank isn't within the district.

Frank Giaquinto:  No, but my meter pit is in the boundaries.

Attorney Mark Gebo explains necessity for
water district audits and a ground survey of
Cape Vincent's water district #2.
Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Well, why not extend it out to Clayton. The reason we have geographic boundaries is so we have a way to plan an know what we are doing and be able to have adequate supply. To know whether to increase or lessen the allocation. We are probably thinking about lessening allocations in district three because they are not drawing like they were from the DANC line. If we are going to be responsible for the district, people that are drawing water from the district need to be within the district. That's all. And, again, I don't think it's a difficult fix. But. we need to know what's there to fix it.

Hester Chase:  Is there a map?

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Yes, there's a map. When the district was created, part of the district creation process, and this is true for every district. Town law requires that there be a map plan and report. And, a map plan and report was prepared when district two was created which showed those few properties, and there is a map that had dark lines that outline the geographic boundaries of the district. It was amended a year or two later to include another property and that, too, had that.

Councilman Clif Schneider:  And in that agreement there also the parcels that were actually listed.

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  They were listed. They were identified by tax parcel number, I think. But there was also a map that physically drew the boundaries around them. And, at the pit. It included the entire boundaries of the tax parcels that were included. And, that's typically how every district is created.

Hester Chase:  Is that available?

Town Attorney Mark Gebo:  Oh Yeah. Somebody has it, I'm sure. It's here at the town office.I don't have it in the pile I brought. I've seen it here in the last couple of weeks, though somewhere here around the town. Yeah, it's available.

Janet Radley:  I've got one question. Why didn't the board contact district two and ask them these questions instead of letting it go to this extent. These guys would have given you your answers. But, you chose not to call or...

Supervisor Urban Hirschey:  Well, we're not experts in surveys.

Janet Radley:  You're saying you're the water commissioner so you're questioning and now you're doing this. Why didn't you call up Donny and say, who is, is there somebody hooked onto your line, and who is it? And blah, blah, blah. Why didn't you ask him that instead of turning it into a circus.

Supervisor Urban Hirschey:  Donnie told me that he was..

Donald Mason:  No, I did not. I never said either way.

Supervisor Urban Hirschey:  Really?

Donald Mason:  Really.

Supervisor Urban Hirschey:  OK, we'll get together a little later.