ONEIDA COUNTY SEWER DISTRICT
SANITARY SEWER OVERFLOW MITIGATION PROJECT
What is the problem?
During very heavy rainfalls or rapid snowmelts, runoff water enters the sanitary sewer system through cracks, damaged lateral pipes, and improper system connections. This influx of clean water becomes contaminated as it mixes with the raw contents of the sewer, significantly increasing the volume of water that needs to be treated.
During these times, the system is pushed beyond capacity, causing the excess to overflow into the Mohawk River. The Oneida County Sewer District (OCSD) Sanitary Sewer Overflow Mitigation Project is a multi-year initiative that is designed to reduce these sanitary sewer overflows.
By contaminating the Mohawk River, we are damaging the natural ecosystem and limiting our future generations’ ability to enjoy the resource that helped develop the Mohawk Valley. In addition to causing harm to this local asset, if these overflows are not reduced, Oneida County faces harsh fines that would place a severe burden on local residents and regional economic development.
Who is involved?
We have been fortunate to have had input from each of the District’s municipalities, as well as the expert guidance of engineering and planning professionals. Together, we have developed a plan that is designed to meet the needs of each municipality, as well as the District as a whole.
What is being done?
This is no small undertaking and not a problem unique to our area. Municipalities across the nation are facing similar challenges with their sewer systems. How do we repair and rehabilitate our aging infrastructure, while limiting the burden on ratepayers?
A number of projects have already begun or will commence in the near future. Some of this work will be visible in your neighborhoods, such as sewer lining and manhole repairs. Other projects will go unseen, but will make a significant difference, such as the installation of devices that allow the sewer flows to be measured at various points (flow monitoring).
The District has 12* member municipalities that include:
- The City of Utica
- The Village of New York Mills
- The Village of Yorkville
- The Village of Whitesboro
- The Village of Oriskany
- The Village of New Hartford
- The Village of Clayville
- The Town of Whitestown
- The Town of New Hartford
- The Town of Paris
- The Town of Marcy
- The Town of Deerfield
*The Village of Holland Patent and portions of the Towns of Frankfort and Schuyler in Herkimer County are also serviced by the District via intermunicipal agreements.
2007: Original Consent Order
In July 2007, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Oneida County executed an Order on Consent that required the County to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) from its Sauquoit Creek Pump Station by October 31, 2014.
The Consent Order settled an enforcement action that had been brought by NYSDEC against the County. Had the County failed to agree to that Consent Order, it would have been liable for a penalty of up to $37,500 per violation, per day plus, injunctive relief. By agreeing to the terms, it would instead pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and complete required repairs and remediation according to a specific schedule and timetable mandated by the state.
The execution of the Consent Order was the culmination of six months of settlement negotiations with the NYSDEC. Although the County believed it had meritorious defenses to the NYSDEC action, it chose to settle the matter expeditiously in order to provide a long-term solution for wet weather discharges into the river, and to provide an immediate mechanism to allow development to continue throughout the Sauquoit Creek Pumping Station service area while these remediation projects were underway.
2011: Consent Order is Revised
Even after agreeing to the original Consent Order, the County continued to work diligently with the NYSDEC to establish a more realistic timeframe for this project. As a result, the consent order was modified in 2011 to permit the County until December 21, 2021 to remove SSOs from occurring at the Sauquoit Creek Pump Station.
This was a significant step forward for the project, as it importantly reflected the County’s efforts to identify the causes of the overflows, the solutions to the defects in the sewage conveyance system, and a plan to coordinate the work to be done. This new deadline provided a more realistic timeframe to systematically complete the extensive but necessary repairs.