Waterkeeper Urges Moratorium on New Construction Until Wastewater Treatment Plant Improved

Anthony F. Hall
December 2014
 

The Village and the Town of Lake George should impose a moratorium on any new development that might increase flows through the Village’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, argues Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.
“After monitoring the plant for six months, we have found a clear correlation between heavier flows and the pollution that enters West Brook and ultimately Lake George,” said Navitsky.
Navitsky, with Lake George Watershed Coalition executive director David Decker and Jim Sutherland, a retired DEC scientist, has been monitoring the plant’s discharges every two weeks since June, when New York State ordered Lake George Village to modernize its treatment plant.
New York State found that the plant was discharging unacceptably high levels of nitrates into ground water and fined the Village $3,900.
Navitsky was scheduled to present his case for a moratorium at a joint meeting of Village and Town officials on Tuesday, December 9.
“We’re certainly going to listen to what Chris has to say and carefully weigh his arguments,” Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais said before the meeting.
Navitsky said that a moratorium on new development within the Village and the Town’s Sewer District might assist Lake George Village secure grants to complete the second phase of improvements to its waste water treatment plant, which it agreed to do after being cited by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
The cost of those improvements has been estimated to range from $2 to $4 million, said Blais.
The plant, which serves roughly 4,000 people in the off-season and approximately 40,000 people in the summer, was constructed in 1939 as a federally funded, public works project.
In the 1980s, more than $500,000 was invested in making the plant more effective, but it remained, according to the DEC, “in serious need of upgrades.”
A $951,000 distribution from the Lake George Basin Sewer project funded more improvements, which were completed in 2001.
More recently, the Village’s Board of Trustees agreed to borrow $2.2M in 2012 from the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation to make more improvements to the plant, including new sandbeds.
A moratorium, which should remain in place until the second phase of improvements are completed, would not affect projects that have already been approved by local planning and zoning boards, said Navitsky.
In addition to imposing a moratorium on new development, Lake George should increase fees on haulers of septic waste and impose impact fees on developers, said Navitsky.
Both initiatives would help defray the costs of modernizing the wastewater treatment plant, said Navitsky.

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