Town developing approach to solve sewer problems
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reached a settlement with Niskayuna over the town's wastewater treatment plant exceeding capacity.
Niskayuna officials negotiated with DEC and were able to reduce the fine to $7,500 and suspend an additional $30,000 fine, which will be reinstated if the town fails to adhere to the order of consent. The residential building moratorium is still in place, which will stop any new residential connections to the sewer system if the town didn't accept the project by Dec. 3. Through the negotiation, the date was pushed forward, which allowed for more substantial residential projects to move forward.
Based on the fact that they had already been received, we felt that it would be unfair to not allow those projects to proceed, said Rick Georgeson, spokesman for Region 4 of the DEC. "It says in the order they will not allow any new residential expansion increase in flow. They can make as many local approvals as they wish as long as anything is not hooked up to the system."
Georgeson said almost every order issued by the DEC reaching an agreement goes through a negotiation period. Also, setting a large penalty amount is common to make sure the schedule of compliance is followed.
The town will have to submit the schedule of compliance, which is a report on how the town will address the problem, to the DEC by Jan. 18. The DEC then can approve or not approve the plan, but if it is denied, Georgeson said the DEC would tell the town what areas needed to be addressed before submitting a revised report.
He said the town has been very cooperative with DEC through the negotiating process.
"We're very pleased with the resolution of this long-standing issue with Niskayuna's sewer system," said Gene Kelly, regional director for the DEC, in a statement. "We believe this order will put the town on the right path to solve these difficult [inflow and infiltration] problems."