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Help Still Needed To Finance Sewer System

We knew that getting sewers built around Chautauqua Lake would be a long, involved process–and it is proving to be so. I would describe the current scenario as being sort of a “good news/bad news” situation.

The “good news” is that the county legislature recently approved a bond issue of $16.9 million dollars to finance the construction of a sewer line and laterals from the area around the BOCES school in Ashville up to Stow.

The “bad news” is that the county needs to receive additional state or federal aid in order to keep the user costs down to what the New York State Comptroller deems to be affordable. (That number is about $950 per user/per year.) Though the state has committed $ 5 million to the project, there is still an approximate $ 3 million shortfall in order to make the project “affordable” so that construction can begin.

In my view, the biggest “bad news” is that nothing has been done in Washington to support such projects though there has been a lot of “bally-hoo” about building infrastructure. Under the old federal Clean Waters Act, 50% of the cost of such projects was eligible for federal funding. (This is what enabled the extension of sewers in the 1980’s to the Bemus Point area and provided funds for the construction of the sewage treatment plant in Celeron.)

Unfortunately, the absence of federal funding this year was virtually guaranteed when the big $ 1 ¢ Trillion-dollar tax cut was enacted. Had the tax cut been for $750 billion and the other $750 billion designated for national infrastructure… then we would have seen some money from Washington. However, now, after the massive tax cut, the federal government is really broke and there is no money left for infrastructure.

So, this leaves us with our only other real option, more money from Albany. If the County doesn’t get an additional $3 million from New York State–forget about starting to get sewers built up the Lake.

I hate to be bearer of bad news but, as of this writing, there is not sufficient funding to begin constructing sewers up the west side of the Lake. This will mean that we will continue to “limp along” trying to upgrade septic systems which are failing and, which by their nature, are not able to remove phosphorus from the waste being discharged into the Lake. This is unacceptable–somehow, we need to secure the additional funding.

More phosphorus means more food for the algae. When will Washington get that message? Your guess is as good as mine. Albany has gotten the message. Let’s hope that they can finish the job and help us get this project started!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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