WATERLOO — Ten elected officials, mostly from the southern end of Seneca County, met May 29 and spent more than two hours discussing the sanitary sewer situation in their end of the county.
Much of the talk centered on what impact the closure of Hillside Children’s Center in Varick by the end of 2019 would have on a proposed sewer consolidation project endorsed by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year.
Another issue that needs to be resolved is how much the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) will pay toward a new treatment plant and sewer lines to serve Five Points state prison in Romulus.
The plan endorsed by the supervisors calls for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant to replace two failing plants, converting them to pump stations. The new plant would be on the site of the current plant in Willard, which would be removed. The treatment plant at Five Points, which also serves the Hillside property, would be closed and converted to a pump station.
The plan also calls for extending new sewer lines through the former Seneca Army Depot and Sampson State Park.
The wastewater treatment plant at Willard on Seneca Lake is 37 years old and needs numerous upgrades to meet its State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit conditions, especially in the areas of ammonia, phosphorous and residual chlorine.
The wastewater treatment plant at Five Points is also in poor condition and requires upgrades to meet its SPDES permit, also for phosphorous, ammonia and residual chlorine.
A professional engineering report for the sanitary sewer situation prepared by Barton & Loguidice recommends decommissioning of the treatment plant at Hillside and converting it to a new pump station at a cost of $2.2 million. The closing of Hillside, a residential treatment facility for court-placed children, is causing county officials to reconsider that idea.
Removing the system would reduce the project cost and user costs, but may reduce development prospects for the Hillside property, which is owned by the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency. Eligibility for funding from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation is another consideration.
Attending the meeting were County Manager Mitch Rowe, board chairman Bob Shipley of Waterloo, Public Works Committee Chairman Don Trout of Waterloo, County Supervisor Ralph Lott of Seneca Falls, Fayette Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti, Romulus Supervisor David Kaiser, Varick Supervisor Bob Hayssen, Lodi Supervisor Lee Davidson, Covert Supervisor Michael Reynolds, Ovid Mayor Leon Kelly and Lodi Mayor Kyle Barnhart.
Also present was county Public Works Commissioner Sam Priem, representatives of Barton & Loguidice Engineers and Mary Anne Kowalski of Romulus, former administrator of the county’s water and sewer districts.
It was noted that the a consolidated system would cost an estimated $22.9 million, but would have lower operating and maintenance costs. It would also likely be eligible for more state funding, have operational efficiencies and be less sensitive to possible institutional user changes, such as Hillside closing or possible closing of Five Points or Willard Drug Treatment Center.
Maintaining the existing treatment plants, with upgrades, would cost an estimated $18.3 million. The engineers recommended that the state Department of Corrections contribute $10.3 million toward the $22.9 million cost of building a new treatment plant.
The next steps are:
• Prepare a grant application that would be submitted in September.
• Resolve the Hillside status.
• Finalize the state contributions.
• Begin the environmental review by determining who will be lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process. That could be done at the June 25 Public Works Committee meeting and the July 9 full board meeting.
• Finalize the map and plan, which could also be done at those same meetings.
• Consider a bond resolution to borrow to pay for the project. That is earmarked for the June 23 committee meeting and Aug. 13 board meeting.
Kowalski said moving forward with the grant application that includes Hillside makes “absolutely no sense’’ to the residential customers and delays making critical improvements at Willard and Five Points for which the county has two notices of violation.
She also said the $5 million grant for a project of more than $22 million “is a cost that is not sustainable for residents of south county.’’