Significant State Aid Boosts Sewer Projects

Two projects in the Mayville area recently received a tremendous boost in their efforts to clean-up phosphorous discharges into Chautauqua Lake.

New capital improvements at the sewer plant in Mayville and the simultaneous decommissioning of the inadequate sewer plant at Chautauqua Lake Estates with its sewage being sent by pipeline to the improved Mayville plant are two projects which each received over $900,000 from New York State.

These improvements will dramatically reduce phosphorous emissions in the northern basin of the Lake bringing these facilities within the DEC’s standard of having .2 parts per million or less of phosphorus emissions in sewage effluent discharges. Chautauqua Institution has already made sewer plant investments to reach this level.

I have written before that it will take state and federal assistance in order to make such projects affordable at the local level. These grants will reduce the cost of these improvements by 25%.

Having been at one time in the New York State Legislature, I know how important it is that we have elected representatives to champion such causes. A legislator in the majority party in Albany can be especially effective in advocating for grant monies.

In that regard, I would single out State Senator Cathy Young for congratulations. She is not only a member of the majority party in the State Senate, she is Chair of the powerful Finance Committee in that House.

In my view, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act passed by the legislature in 2015 and signed by the Governor–is testament to a tradition in New York State that public health-related infrastructure is an important function of government.

It also supports a mission that, in many cases, is beyond the financial ability of local government to fund. Promoting clean water and healthy lakes is a priority for everyone and requires this kind of broad-based support.

It would be nice if we could get back to the “good old days” of the 1980’s when federal aid for such projects was 50% and the state share was 25%. Though there is a lot of talk, I don’t see anything coming out of Washington amounting to anything. (I hope I am wrong.) However, these state grant monies for the northern part of Chautauqua Lake certainly re-establish the tradition that Albany is back “in the game” of supporting clean water projects.

What is also encouraging is that the extension of sewers up the west side of the lake (from Ashville to Stow) is proceeding.

A public hearing on that matter is scheduled for October 25th in Mayville. If approved, an application can then be made for state assistance for this project.

Another aspect in the process which has, in my opinion, been positive–is that there has been a proactive engineering firm backing up these projects. Since the same basic environmental issues apply around the Lake, it is helpful to have one lead engineering firm coordinating the efforts to build sewers.

Slowly, gradually sewers are getting built and upgraded around Chautauqua Lake. Kudos to the State of New York for their recent support!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.