Sewer Project Hits A Snag

For those who are interested in how sewer construction projects around Chautauqua Lake are faring, I have some good news and some “maybe” not good news.

First, for the good news — construction is now happening to connect the old and inadequate sewage treatment plant at Chautauqua Lake Estates (also called “Chautauqua Heights”) with the newly upgraded sewage plant in Mayville. This project came about as a result of the DEC order several years ago requiring that sewage treatment plants around the Lake reduce phosphorous emissions to .02 parts per million or less.

It is good news on a couple of fronts:

¯ It solves the discharge problem at Chautauqua Lake Estates; and

¯ the new pipe connecting that condominium development to the Mayville plant has been built big enough so that in the future it could provide for the collection of sewage as far south as Midway State Park — thus providing the possibility of ultimately completing sewers on the east side of the lake.

On the west side of the lake, I would put the news more in the “maybe” category. The money has been largely raised to extend a new sewer main from its current terminus near the Ashville BOCES school to Stow, just on the other side of I-86. We should all cheer about that. However, it had been my hope that this construction could begin next year, 2020. Now, it appears that this could slide into 2021. Why the delay?

The answer appears to be largely bureaucratic. A decision was made to change engineering firms. In a bid process, the former engineering firm lost out to a new company. This all sounds good because a lower bid usually means less money … a benefit to ratepayers and taxpayers. However, in this case, it also meant “changing horses in the middle of the stream.” The new engineering firm had to learn about the Lake, about all that has been done before; and, in the course of things, the contract was further negotiated. In other words, the new engineering firm had to be “brought up to speed.”

What this has meant on the west side of the lake is that things have slowed down. It is questionable now that the engineering can be completed in 2019. If engineering is not finished this year, then it is highly doubtful that all of the other “hoops” that have to be complied with, including a public bidding for construction, can be completed by 2020.

This is not meant to “throw stones” at anyone. However, my observation over the years is that when construction is delayed, construction costs still keep going up. Thus, the further we delay construction, the more it usually costs to get something built. In this case, it will also delay our push to clean up Chautauqua Lake.

We can still hope for a 2020 construction start on the west side of the lake. But, in keeping with my general approach in addressing this issue, I think the public needs to be advised that the time table has been slipping a little when it comes to constructing sewers up to Stow.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.