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Brasher officials still studying sewer ordinance

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BRASHER FALLS - A representative from the Department of Environmental Conservation told Brasher officials that they can decide what should or should not be allowed in their sewage system.

The discussion came during a January audit by the DEC and stemmed from a recent incident in which DEC officials had recommended pumping contaminated water from an old well at the St. Lawrence Central School District into the town’s sewer system to rid the system of all contamination before beginning to use a new well.

Town Supervisor M. James Dawson told town board members this week that he had met with DEC officials following their audit of the sewer plant on Jan. 10. One of his concerns had been the pumping of propylene glycol by the school into the sewage system.

“We talked about the runoff from the school. I found out propylene glycol is not going to affect the system. We have the authority to tell them they can’t do it,” he said.

Propylene glycol is used in the school district’s heating lines that send heat to the bus garage and elementary school.

The problem with the well was discovered in early November when the water took on a different color and odor. Once the problem was discovered, the district received authorization from the state Education Department to dig a new well earlier than scheduled. It had been planned as part of an upcoming capital project.

The district worked with the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation and state Education Department. DEC officials had recommended pumping water from the old well into the sewer system to rid the system of all contamination before beginning to use the new well.

The district stopped pumping into the municipal sewer system prior to New Year’s.

The pumping of contaminated water prompted town board members to begin reviewing their sewage regulations for updates, a process that is currently on-going. The current ordinance is more than 30 years old. Mr. Dawson had suggested in January that they update it because of the probability that “there are some new rules and regulations and maybe there are some substances that are prohibited.”

He had pointed out there were substances that didn’t exist in the 1970s when the initial sewer ordinance was drafted.

Since the January meeting, engineer Timothy A. Burley has updated the ordinance and provided town officials with a copy of his proposal.

“The biggest difference I suspect is a list of elements not permitted in the sewer,” Mr. Dawson said.

He asked board members to review Mr. Burley’s updated ordinance and make any notations for discussion at their March meeting. Any revisions will require a public hearing before they can be put in place.

During the Jan. 10 DEC audit, Mr. Dawson said, the inspector had wanted to see the new sewer ordinance in 30 days.

“That’s not going to happen,” he said.

Overall, he said, the audit found that the town’s sewage system was well-maintained and operated.

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