PENN YAN — Saying there is “significant pollution” rolling into Seneca Lake from the Keuka Laket Outlet, several Dresden-area residents want the Yates County Legislature to get involved.
Eileen Moreland and her husband, Dr. John Moreland, were among those voicing their concerns at Monday’s Legislature meeting. They live on Arrowhead Beach Road in Torrey.
“There is a serious problem with water quality, both in the outlet and Seneca Lake,” Eileen Moreland said.
She said the main sources are farm runoff and discharge from Penn Yan’s wastewater treatment plant, which releases 1.2 million gallons of effluent daily. Moreland said the plant’s disinfection practices haven’t changed in close to 20 years.
Moreland and her husband said Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association tests the water coming from the outlet, and more than 60 percent of those samples fail to meet clean-water standards set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Morelands said E. coli counts in the water are well above acceptable levels.
Eileen Moreland said SLPWA has been testing the water frequently since 2017, when about 35,000 gallons of partially treated sludge went into the outlet from the plant. The village of Penn Yan paid a $5,000 fine for the incident.
The Morelands said treated effluent from the plant is disinfected just six months out of the year. They want it done year-round, and Dr. John Moreland said the village should consider an ultraviolet disinfection method that kills E. coli on contact and is universally accepted.
“It is the solution to the pollution,” he said. “It needs to be done sooner than later.”
Legislator Dan Banach said the village is looking into ultraviolet disinfection, possibly by 2022, but said it will be costly.
“This is going to be a $2 million deal spread out over 5,200 people,” Banach said, referring to the village of Penn Yan’s population. “Any county money will be appreciated.”
Another Dresden-area resident, Philip Brock, took issue with discharge methods at the Greenidge plant on Seneca Lake. Brock said a new screening system will not be put in place until 2022.
Legislature Chairman Doug Paddock urged the speakers to contact the DEC.
“We can call the DEC, we can encourage them and make demands, but we have no real power over them,” Paddock said.
The speakers did get some support from Legislator Bill Holgate, who lives in the Dundee area.
“If the outlet was flowing the other way, into Keuka Lake, things would be done much sooner,” he said. “We shouldn’t keep pawning this off on the DEC.”
In other board matters:
• NEW DEPUTY — The board approved filling a vacant deputy sheriff position despite the objection of Legislator Elden Morrison, a frequent critic of the county’s public safety costs.
He pointed to the sheriff’s office “expensive policy” of double shifts on Wednesdays, a state report that said the sheriff’s office is overstaffed, and Yates County being in the top three counties in the state per capita for public safety costs. Morrison also pointed to the county’s low crime rate.
“I am not being critical of the quality of the road patrol,” he said. “We’ve had this discussion many times before, and this body continues to ignore the objective data.”
Morrison voted against the hire, as did Legislator Terry Button.
• INTERN — Keuka College student Rachael Restivo got a certificate from Phil Rouin — director of the county’s Veterans Service Agency — and George Roets, the county’s director of community services. Restivo interned in both departments.
Rouin said Restivo developed several support programs for military veterans in the county, including a respite program for homebound veterans.
“This can be people playing cards or just talking to them for an hour or two,” Rouin said. “That means a lot to these veterans.”
“This was a great learning experience,” Restivo said.