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DEC orders Sackets Harbor to build disinfectant system at new sewage treatment plant

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SACKETS HARBOR – Though it was completed in the spring of 2012, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has ruled the village’s $9 million sewage treatment plant already needs an upgrade.

The DEC informed the village in October that it might have to install a disinfectant system to treat the effluent discharged from the village plant into the mouth of Black River Bay at Lake Ontario. That could cost up to $400,000, not counting engineering costs, Town Engineer Kris D. Dimmick said at a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night.

The board then decided to apply for a state Water Quality Improvement Project grant that would fund 85 percent of the overall cost; the village would be responsible for a 15 percent local share. It will need to submit an application by Dec. 13, complete engineering plans by September 2014, and finish construction by May 2017.

Village officials decided they would probably install an ultraviolet disinfectant system, rather than chlorination, to reduce the overall project cost. To cover the local share, they will pursue state and federal grant funding.

The DEC’s Oct. 9 letter warned that the village will need a modified discharge permit requiring the disinfectant system because the effluent flows into Black River Bay so close to Lake Ontario, which is classified as a Class A water body, said Town Engineer Kris D. Dimmick. The bay, by contrast, is deemed a Class C water body, which does not require a disinfectant system.

The discharge point for the plant, off General Smith Drive, is technically in the bay, but the DEC has ruled that the plant is required to abide by Class A guidelines because of its proximity to Lake Ontario.

Due to the vague criteria, Mr. Dimmick said regulations will be investigated to make sure the village is indeed mandated to undertake the project.

“I think there’s a little gamesmanship going on here” because the state “might be thinking the village is a proactive community that will do this because it’s already invested a lot in the plant,” he said.

Trustee Peter R. Daly, in response, said, “Seeing how the DEC flip-flops, it might change its mind two years from now and decide we don’t need to do this.”

The village was among 12 municipalities across the state ordered by the DEC to upgrade their sewage treatment plants with disinfectant systems. A $10 million pool of state grant funding is available to help fund those projects.

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