TORREY — Nearly 40 Dresden-area property owners on the west shore of Seneca Lake are concerned about what they feel is the “deteriorating” condition of the lake.

The signed a March 26 letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlining their concerns, giving priority to the pollution in the Keuka Outlet in Penn Yan that is flowing into the lake, their only source of household water for lakeshore residences.

Their concerns are:


The plant is on the Keuka Outlet. The letter, written by Eileen Moreland of Arrowhead Beach Road, claims the plant has been operating without a state permit since January 2017.

Cuomo was told that in August 2017, 35,000 gallons of partially treated effluent was discharged into the outlet due to employee error. “A consent order was issued and now, almost two years later, nothing has been done. An alarm system was ordered to be put in place, but it has not been installed,” the letter states.

“The engineering study has not even been done yet. The recommendation was made by the DEC to have disinfection six months a year, not the 12 months the residents requested,” the letter states, noting that residents have not been able to get municipal water to serve their homes.

They said the wastewater treatment plant “has an obligation to disinfect the sewage water that it is now sending to Seneca Lake. They said the plant sends 1.2 million gallons of effluent per day down the outlet to the lake.”

“As a result, Keuka Lake continues to be a pristine body of water and Seneca Lake continues to deteriorate. The outlet is heavily polluted with e-coli and coliform bacteria,” the letter states. Moreland writes that the DEC’s response is that the outlet is eight miles long and a sufficient distance to kill the bacteria before it gets to the lake.

“In reality, this distance is much closer to five miles from the treatment plant to the lake. Testing done by Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) over the past four years has shown that the bacteria levels are highly elevated and this distance is not sufficient for sunlight to kill the bacteria in the outlet,” she writes.

The property owners told the governor that the DEC gave the plant permission to stop ultraviolet disinfection in 1999. They said that was a mistake on the DEC’s part “and now we are suffering the consequences 20 years later.” They said SLPWA’s testing of the outlet shows high levels of e-coli and coliform bacteria.

Despite that, they said disinfection will still only be for six months a year. “Whatever the cost, no one has given us figures to document how much it will cost,” they wrote. “Whatever the cost is, the pollution that it causes and the subsequent damage to the lake and the health of the residents justifies the expense of disinfection.”

The DEC Region 8 office in Avon said the project manager for the Penn Yan treatment plant was unavailable, but may be able to provide an update today.

The group recommended these steps:

• Disinfection 12 months a year.

• A cost analysis for year-round disinfection, compared to six months.

• Completion of an engineering feasibility study.

• Reclassification of the Keuka Outlet and Class B portion of Seneca Lake below the confluence of the Keuka Outlet.

• A response summary should be sent to all 40 or so residents who submitted comments.


The homeowners said high nutrient concentration and elevated bacteria levels from farm runoff are contributing to water quality problems in Seneca Lake. To help remedy the situation, they requested the state provide financial and technical assistance to agriculture landowners to implement conservation practices on their land to improve water quality in streams that flow into the lake. They listed several of those available programs.


They told Cuomo that groundwater contaminants, including heavy metals, are leaking from the landfill to the outlet and adding to the deterioration of the lake. They point out that there has been a DEC consent order in place since 2015 and because of extensions, the remediation is supposed to be done by the end of 2019.

“From what we understand, the work has not been done yet. The Greenidge plant has now requested to expand the landfill. Why should this be allowed?” they asked.

They said the landfill, which was used by the power plant when it was coal-fired, should be closed, not expanded.


Residents said the DEC is allowing the natural gas-powered electric generation plant on the lake near Dresden to withdraw 150 million gallons of water a day and return it to the lake at a higher temperature. They say the intake pipe does not have a screen, killing thousands of fish each day.

“Now the owner has until 2022 to implement permit terms. The DEC should have recommended a closed water cooling system instead of the current open water system,” they wrote. They said this contributes to the growth of blue green algae.

They recommended Greenidge be required to install a fish screen on the intake pipe and switch to a closed water cooling system.

Moreland said she has not received a response from the governor’s office or the DEC.

Now she has a new concern. Ferro Electronic Materials in Dresden has applied for a permit to discharge chromium and cadmium into the lake. Moreland said cadmium is said to be a carcinogenic element. Moreland is rallying residents to write letters opposing the Ferro plan. The deadline to submit comments to the Region 8 office in Avon is June 4.

Recommended for you