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STAFF PHOTO/JEFF HORVATH Members of the Wyoming County Conservation District, local government leaders, and representatives of sponsoring businesses attended a “Clean Water Initiative Project” luncheon at the Fair on Friday. Back row from left, Robert Robinson, Jim Luce of Claverack, Commissioners Tom Henry, Ron Williams, and Judy Meade, Mike Atchie of Williams, Chris Faux of the Conservation District, and Jesse Bonnice of Carrizo. Front row from left, Bob Faux of Claverack, Charlotte Severcool of PS Bank, Marjorie Singer, Fair Board President, Daria Fish of Chief Oil and Gas, Mike Narcavage of South-Western Energy, Edward Patchcowski, District Conservationist, and Kevin Rohe of NRCS.

This year’s Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair saw many physical improvements to the fairgrounds’ facilities, but one of the more subtle and environmentally responsible changes took place below ground.

Throughout the last year members of the Wyoming County Conservation District, in partnership with the county fair board, have worked hard to see their “Clean Water Initiative Project” come to fruition.

The project, which saw the implementation of two separate, underground water-containment tanks, as well as an intricate system of gutters and piping, will help to ensure that rain water collected at the fair grounds remains uncontaminated.

First, new gutters were placed on the roofs of all the livestock barns and buildings, the downspouts of which connect to underground lines that transport all collected rainfall into one of two tanks. The first tank, which is located near the new livestock barn, can hold up to 10,500 gallons of water. The second, slightly smaller tank is located near the horse barn, and can hold roughly 5,000 gallons.

In total, 2,640 feet of gutters were installed, along with 3,195 feet of pipe. The two tanks will store about 15,500 gallons of water when they reach capacity.

“We expect about 1 million gallons of water to pass through this system annually,” said Chris Faux, WCCD project coordinator, “and all of it will be kept clean and ready to use when necessary.”

The nature of the fairgrounds has always been akin to some animal-related water contamination, especially during fair week.

Rain water can transfer an array of animal diseases, such as swine and bird flu, that are highly contageous for other animals and livestock. There was also the potential problem of contaminated water making its way to the Susquehanna River, which can pose a health problem downstream.

Nonetheless, the new system acts as a safeguard against these threats, as collected rainwater never touches the ground. Once the water is collected, moreover, there is an array of practical uses that are put toward.

“Fifty-one weeks out the year there won’t be much need,” said Fair Board Vice President Kim Scott, “but during fair week that water will be put to good use. We can use it for dust control and for keeping the tracks watered down, and it can be used when washing down animals or in the event of a fire.”

The fire companies can also fill their tanks from the rain reservoirs during the off-season.

Laura Anderson, WCCD environmental education coordinator, said that the project, which cost around $90,000, “would not have been possible without the support of local sponsors and businesses,” who were honored at a luncheon Friday.

A new sign was unveiled at the fairgrounds identifying sponsors. The remainder of the project was financed through the state’s “Growing Greener” program.

“We are very proud of this project,” Scott added, “and we would love to see it be used as a model for other fairs.”