Village ponders detention pond for runoff overflow

CHATHAM – Village officials met with representatives from the state and federal government last week to discuss what to do when storm runoff overwhelms the village sewer system.

Mayor Paul Bohme reported the substance of the meeting to Trustees at the last Village Board meeting January 28, saying that he and Trustee George Grant met with representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York Rural Water Association and Congressmen Scott Murphy’s office to discuss the sewer infiltration issues due to rain water runoff, sump pumps, roof leaders and manholes. He said the meeting included a discussion of whether the village should create a detention pond to collect storm runoff.

The village still has not complied with all state sewer treatment regulations, and the Rural Water Association has proposed a detention pond, which would collect the excess storm water runoff so it can be directed into the sewer system without exceeding the capacity of the system. If too much runoff goes through the system, some of the water is released before it is treated.

“It’s something that we are looking at,” said the mayor. He also said that the village would look for funding sources, including state and federal grants, to build the pond. Officials have not yet chosen a site or drawn up plans to build the detention pond–or what will more likely be a covered water tower.

“A rainy day had one million gallons go through the system,” Mr. Grant said of the village sewer. Normal flow through the sewer plant 250,000 to 300,000 gallons a day said the mayor.

Mr. Grant also said the sewer plant was built to handle 500,000 gallons a day of waste water, but the permit from the state is for 350,000 gallons.

The mayor talked about the great deal of rain the village gets in the spring, which causes spikes in the amount of water flowing through the system. Last week because of the rain and snow melt, the system did surge to a million gallons but was down to 400,000 gallons by Wednesday, said the mayor.

“The problem has been going on for a while,” said Trustee Lael Locke. She asked whether the DEC would take action if changes aren’t made. Both Mr. Grant and Mr. Bohme assured her that the state has applauded their efforts the village is making aimed at improving the system. The mayor said the state could fine the village “if we don’t do anything,” but he assured her the village is actively addressing the problem.

“This isn’t something unique to Chatham,” said Mr. Grant. He said that many other sewer plants in the county are dealing with “I and I” issues, a reference to the engineering terms infiltration and inflow in the sewer system. He also said that the village would start looking for sump pumps in basements that are hooked up to the sanitary sewer, a practice that adds more water to the overburdened system. Residents with these pumps will receive letters from the village requiring them to disconnect from the system. He said that if residents need to pump water from their basements they should “just put [their] hose out the window like everyone else does.”

Mayor Bohme said that there are buildings in the village that have major inflow and infiltration problems, including the Chatham Middle School on Woodbridge Avenue.

Asked about new construction, the mayor said the village would need to be in compliance with the state before anyone else will be allowed to tie into the sewer system. That policy has particular relevance at the moment, because The Schuyler Companies has proposed building a new Price Chopper supermarket next to the existing store on Route 66. The new store would lie just outside the village, and the developer has requested permission to use the village sewer system in return for a fee. 
Mayor Bohme said that he had not talked to The Schuyler Companies since meeting with DEC representatives. “If we don’t get it done for two years nobody, is going to get in,” the mayor said of needed changes to the system.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, February 11, at 7:30pm in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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