Sewer Consolidation Still Under Discussion

CELORON – Eliminating all sewer point sources of nutrients into Chautauqua Lake is still a priority for the South and Center Sewer District.

After receiving a Total Maximum Daily Load allowance on how much nutrient may enter the lake from point sources within the DEC, several sewer districts, including the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District and the Chautauqua Institution Sewer District, are looking at costly upgrades to their systems.

Instead, it has been suggested that those sewer districts direct their flow to the South and Center Sewer District, which empties into Chautauqua Lake’s outlet.

Doing so would be a step toward unifying the lake area under one sewer district, and would eliminate all sewer point sources of nutrients entering the lake.

“Greg Edwards is a driving force for this, and he has spoken with us, the Chautauqua Utility director, and Tom Becker, who is the president of the Chautauqua Institution,” said Tom Walsh, South and Center project coordinator. “One option is to divert North Chautauqua to Westfield, but bringing it (to South and Center) is another option.”

Although Walsh, who is filling in for Randy Peterson as active director, estimated that the cost of sewering the lake would be around $20 million, he said now is an ideal time to consider consolidation.

“The DEC would like (the Chautauqua Institution) to act quickly, so they are the driving force,” said Walsh. “Whether they want to build another treatment plant, or take that money and invest in a pipeline (to South and Center), has yet to be determined. By building a pipeline, it would remove one point source into the lake. If the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District connected to that pipeline, we could discuss sewering the entire lake, and removing all the antiquated septic systems that are around the lake.”

According to Walsh, there are small package plants from Hartfield to Maple Springs that work with places such as Crosswinds. However, the south side of the lake, from Prendergast Point to Sunrise Cove is on septic tanks. Sewering the entire lake would help to rid the lake area of antiquated septic tanks.

It is anticipated that Edwards will schedule a meeting shortly to further discuss with the area sewer districts what the best plan of action will be.

“To sewer the lake – it is costly,” said Walsh. “But now is the time to do it. Chautauqua Institution could spend up to $6 million alone to upgrade their plant. With the DEC’s mandates of TMDL on phosphates and nitrates, almost (everyone) is looking at costly upgrades. In layperson’s terms, the algae in the lake needs phosphates, nitrates and sunlight, and you can’t remove the sunlight. Our big goal is to remove the phosphates and the nitrates.”