Sewer use laws are fairly common in the municipal realm. Whether it be villages, towns, cities, or counties introducing them—the point is to regulate public and private sewers and drains.    

On Monday, the Seneca County Board of Supervisors met in a special session to discuss Local Law B of 2019, a sewer use law for the County. The proposed law would cover the basics - like regulating public and private sewers and private sewage disposal through other means. However, the law would also would regulate installation and connection of sewer lines that connect into the connecting system.

The Department of Environmental Conversation says that sewer use laws are strongly encouraged in general, but notes that Seneca County should have one based on its broader plan to fix issues raised by the DEC in South Seneca.

Water and sewer has been a complex issue for the Board of Supervisors to deal with in recent years. While talking points have circulated around the board for several - solutions and outcomes have been few-and-far-between.

Seneca County has three sewer districts; the newest is along the State Route 318 and 414 corridors in Tyre, Junius, and Seneca Falls. That is in the northern part of the County; and beyond setting rules for new users to play by in those communities - the use law as proposed would have little impact.

Meanwhile, Districts #1 and #2 tend to parts of the County that have seen a lot of change over the last 25 years. The changes that have occurred around these districts is as much part of the story; as the condition of the infrastructure itself.

District #1 runs from the Village of Ovid to the Willard Drug Treatment Center, then travels north to Sampson State Park, Lakeshore Landing, and East Lake Road. The Village of Lodi is also served through this district.

District #2 covers the former Seneca Army Depot, as well as Five Points Correctional Facility, Spring Meadows Apartments, and The Seneca County Law Enforcement Center.

At Monday’s session it was clear that the supervisors had questions. At the same time, a few supervisors were tired of the ongoing debate around it.

“Just so you know, I”m ready to pass this law,” proclaimed Supervisor Don Trout (R-Waterloo). “I want everyone to know that before we get started.” Trout chairs the committee tasked with moving the sewer use law to the full-board, so that a public hearing can be held on it.

A couple minor changes were requested by the committee, but ultimately it was passed by a unanimous vote.

Among those changes were frequency of reporting by a sewer administrator. Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti (D-Fayette) requested that quarterly updates be made to the Board of Supervisors so that they can keep tabs on what’s going on in the districts. “We want to avoid the situation we’re in now. This is how we got here. It was all poor management,” she said during discussion on the matter.

County Attorney David Ettman said that the change would be an easy edit to the existing draft. “The reporting won’t be as inclusive if it’s quarterly, but you can get an operational update from the administrator,” he explained. 

Lorenzetti was comfortable with that, and noted that the Board simply wanted to stay in “the know.”

The supervisors removed seasonal rates, and all references to billing and development in the districts. While some supervisors wanted to see Districts #1 and #2 re-worked to include different parts of each - the committee agreed that it would be best to address that as a separate matter.

The full board will now consider the measure, and schedule a public hearing for a session in late October.

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