In-District Customers of Seneca County Sewer Districts (Lakeshore Landing, Spring Meadows, and Village of Ovid) and
Out-of-District customers (Hamlets of Willard and Romulus, Village of Lodi and Varick Sewer District #2 (East Lake Road.)
Just when I thought Seneca County government could not surprise me, I sit here amazed at the agenda for the July 24 Board of Supervisors and Committee Meetings:SENECA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
STANDING COMMITTEE MEETINGS
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
PUBLIC WORKS (Trout, Chair; Hayssen, Vice-Chair; Garlick-Lorenzetti; Kronenwetter; Brownell)
1. ISSUE: Approve Final Professional Engineering Report for Seneca County Sewer District 1 & 2 and the Alternative #3 Centralized Treatment at Willard WWTP
SPECIAL BOARD MEETING AT 7:00:
APPROVE FINAL PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING REPORT FOR SENECA COUNTY SEWER DISTRICT 1 & 2 AND THE ALTERNATIVE #3 CENTRALIZED TREATMENT AT WILLARD WWTP Board Agenda and Resolution
There has been no information about a proposed consolidation of Seneca County Sewer District #1 and Sewer District #2 provided to the public. Customers have not been advised of the purpose, value or cost of the project.
An engineering firm, Barton and LoGuidice, has been working on the plan, with the County Manager and the County Commissioner of Public Works, with a few “workshops,” for “stakeholders.” The stakeholders list does not include a single residential customer, nor the management of Spring Meadows or the HOA at Lakeshore Landing.
It does include:
• State agencies
• Hillside Children’s Center
• Seneca Iron Works (Owned by Earl Martin, new owner of the Depot, which has no sewer connection.)
A link to the 3rd Workshop presentation is below: 3rd Workshop on Sewer District Extension and Consolidation May 2018
(The report the BOS will be voting on has NOT been made available to the public, IMHO, in violation of the Open Meetings Law.)
These comments are based on the presentation from May.
The total estimated cost of the project is $25,000,000 ($18,000,000 for plant upgrades and $7,000,000 for new mains and pumps stations).
The presentation describes increases in costs to various areas, IF ALL OF THE GRANTS AND NO INTEREST LOANS ARE AWARDED. There is no adjustment for existing debt service on Sewer #1 or the significant surplus in Sewer #2.
For many customers, these costs will be in addition to municipal charges for pipe and pump maintenance and any debt service. (I have to say the tables are confusing as some existing costs are annual and some are quarterly.)
What is apparent is that the increases will be significant.
Spring Meadows From $200 To $ 648
Village of Lodi From $180 To $ 421
Hamlet of Romulus from $120 To $ 648
It does not correct the fees to Sampson State Park, which is $180/quarter or $720/year and leaves them at 4 EDUS, despite:
• day visitors;
• 103 slip marina;
• superintendent’s house;
• Cottages 10;
• Cabins 7;
• Campsite/RV sites 300;
• fresh water filling and sewage dumping stations; restaurant/camp store , public restroom and bathhouses.
What is the cost benefit of running a sewer line MILES down 96A from the Hillside Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Sewer #2 (Hillside Campus) to Willard vs upgrading the plant. This sewer plant serves approximately 100 residents and staff as well as the employees at First Light (formerly Finger Lakes Technology Group.) It is NOT implicated in the phosphorus contamination of Reeder Creek.
There are no current customers along the new proposed line from the Hillside entrance to Sampson.
It appears to be an attempt to extend the County Sewer Districts to serve the proposed development of the Depot without going through the legal process.
The “benefited users,” including the new owner of the Depot, should be paying the cost of the extension, not the existing customers and it should follow the process required for an extension of a County District in the County Law, including a referendum.
The other WWTP in Sewer #2 is OWNED by the State of New York. Has the State agreed to any of this and agreed to pay their fair share? The State upgraded the Five Points plant in 2001 to assure dedicated access to sewage treatment for the 1500 inmates and staff. Will the State accept this idea?
There are SERIOUS problems at the Willard WWTP (Sewer #1). The DEC said in 2014 that the existing screw pumps need to be replaced as they are in danger of failing or deteriorating “to the point that they can no longer keep pace with peak influent flows. (i.e. Sewage back-ups in the collection system which then create unauthorized bypasses is an excellent indicator that the pump has failed.) The screw lift pumps are a critical piece of equipment which must be maintained for the entire POTW process to work.
In other words, if the pumps fail, raw sewage will flow into Seneca Lake, all along the collection line. A bond was issued in 2015 to replace the pumps. However, the pumps have not been replaced.
The County told DEC its solution was to “escrow funds” using the bond revenue received “in the pursuit of capital improvements of the system. Several large improvement projects have been put on hold until the long term path is defined through a Preliminary Engineering Report. This bond revenue, exceeding $800,000, would be used in the event of an immediate reaction to a screw pump failure.”
That’s nice. They will fix the pumps AFTER they fail and contaminate Seneca Lake (and probably some residences), even though the customers are paying debt service and interest on the bond to repair the pumps.
Amazingly, DEC seems to have accepted this solution.
I have NO idea what is in the report that the Supervisors have before them, but I would suggest that customers of the Districts contact the Supervisors at email@example.com and ask them to slow down the process and share the report with the public. Customers might want to attend the meeting on Tuesday.
While the DEC set a date of August 1, for this report, if they accepted an escrow account, instead of replacing failing pumps, they will accept a short extension of the Report, beyond August 1, to address public concerns.