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Brasher revisiting, updating sewer regulations for town

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BRASHER FALLS - The Brasher Town Board will be revisiting and updating their 30-some-year-old sewer ordinance after a recent situation involving contaminated well water being funneled into the system.

“We were talking about a revision of our sewer ordinance. It’s been a while, probably 30-some years,” Town Supervisor M. James Dawson told council members at their January meeting. “I recommend we maybe take a look at revising it. I’m sure there are some new rules and regulations and maybe there are some substances that are prohibited.”

The discussion was prompted by a recent contamination of well water at the St. Lawrence Central middle and high school building.

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 has been working 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.

“They have been pumping into our sewer system,” Mr. Dawson said.

Council members agreed they should review the ordinance and make any necessary changes to bring it up to date. Mr. Dawson said they could work with engineer Timothy A. Burley. Any revisions to the ordinance would also require a public hearing before they could be put into place, according to the town supervisor.

Any changes to the ordinance will not impact rates for hooking up to the system right now, he said.

“I think we’re going to be able to keep the hook-up cost per EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) the same. I think we’re in good financial condition,” Mr. Dawson said.

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

Mr. Dawson he initially had some concerns that the glycol in the contaminated water at the school could disrupt the process at the sewer plant lagoons.

“Our first concern was, is the glycol toxic to the process. We just got a letter from the DEC saying the glycol won’t bother the bugs in the lagoon. After a full investigation, the DEC determined the glycol will not affect our process,” he said.

But the Brasher town supervisor said he also had concerns about the additional 20,000 to 25,000 gallons of water a day the school had been adding to the flow moving through the sewer plant, noting the town has a flow limit on its pollutant discharge elimination system permit with the state.

St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said they were following a directive by the DEC to pump the contaminated water into the sewer system, but he said they haven’t been pumping into the system for approximately the past two weeks.

“We haven’t been pumping into the municipal sewer system since before New Year’s. It’s been at least two weeks,” he said.

Test results have showed dramatic improvement in the water since the initial problem was discovered, Mr. Putman said.

“We’ve been testing the water twice a week. The last four test results are all below their measuring threshold - less than 0.05 milligrams per liter of glycol,” he said.

Tests results from Jan. 10, which they received Wednesday, still indicated they were less than 0.05 milligrams, as did readings on Jan. 8, according to the superintendent.

“The old well was below 0.05 on Dec. 28, but then slightly above it on Jan. 3. But it’s been below 0.005 ever since. That’s compared to the original high in November of 210 milligrams per liter. The new well has been that way (at 0.05 milligrams) since Dec. 18,” he said.

As of Wednesday, Mr. Putman said the district still didn’t have the go-ahead to begin using the new well.

“We don’t have the go-ahead yet, but we’re expecting it soon,” he said.

As a result, they are still using bottled water at the middle and high school.

“After New Year’s they lifted the ban on washing kitchen stuff and taking showers. We still aren’t drinking it,” he said.

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