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Village tries to stem ‘infiltration’ by undocumented water


CHATHAM–The Village Board met last week with representatives from Delaware Engineering about fixing the overburdened village sewer system. The board also discussed fines for villagers whose basement sump pumps are hooked up to the sanitary sewer.

The other major item of business at the Thursday, March 25, meeting, came from Village Attorney Nelson R. Alford Jr., who updated the board on legal actions against the owners of two unoccupied properties that present safety hazards. Mr. Alford said there is an interested buyer for one of the properties, the small, two-story structure at 7 Woodbridge Avenue.

But the owner of the other property, at 134 Hudson Avenue, has retained an Albany law firm to handle her case. “So it’s not going to go as quickly,” Mr. Alford said, comparing it to the Woodbridge Avenue property.

The abandoned and now dilapidated house on Woodbridge has been the site of some activity recently. One person who recently saw the inside of the house said that some rooms were so crammed with various items that it was impossible to enter them. This week a Dumpster at the side of the house was filled with large, green garbage bags. One member of a crew of four men at the site said last week that the house would be torn down rather than repaired.

The other major item of business last week was the ongoing effort by the village to reduce the load on the sewer system. To address that goal, village officials plan to send letters with water bills reminding all residents that any homeowner who has a basement sump pump connected to the sanitary sewer risks a fine. Mayor Paul Bohme said that residents who have questions about their pumps can call the village office.

But sump pumps comprise only one of the problems that the village has with its water and sewer systems. And it was that list of problems the board discussed with representatives from Delaware Engineering, a civil and environmental engineering firm in Albany. Mr. Bohme said he heard about the firm from the mayor of Hudson. The company helped municipalities in the county deal with water issues and is currently working on projects in Windham and in Glens Falls.

“Water and wastewater is our deal,” said John Brust, the manager of corporate operations for the company.

The village has failed to comply with state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations governing the sewer plant, which has more water running through it than permitted by the DEC. In technical terms, the plant has infiltration and inflow (“I and I”) issues. When a developer announced plans a few months ago to build a new, larger Price Chopper supermarket next to the existing store on state Route 66 at the south end of the village, the proposal called for the market to tie into the village water and sewer system. But those plans have been put on hold until the village can work out its violations with the DEC.

Mr. Brust said that his firm has a lot of experience finding funding for projects like the one facing the village. He said the company had found federal and state funding for work in Hudson, where the city is replacing its aging sewage treatment plant.

Bill Bright, also from Delaware Engineering, looked at the Chatham sewer plant before meeting with the board. He said that the technology the village is currently using is old but it does not need a complete overhaul. Mr. Bright talked about upgrades and creating more energy efficient ways to run the system.

“Our job is to try to take the waste water off of your agenda,” said Mr. Brust.

He did not mention what the project might cost, but he did say that for the developer of the Price Chopper to build the supermarket its own system for the new building it could cost as much as to $300,000 to install and $60,000 a year to operate.

Trustee Patrick Wemitt asked: “Are we doing this to accommodate Price Chopper?”

The representatives from Delaware Engineering said that the main issues facing the village are the “I and I” and DEC regulations, but Mr. Bright said that knowing the estimated costs for the market to build its own systems puts the village in a better negotiating position.

After the men from Delaware Engineering left the meeting, Trustee Lael Locke questioned whether the village would look at other, similar firms about the work. She said she was bothered by “the lack of process” in settling on the services of one firm.

Mr. Alford said that finding the funding was very important in this process. “If they are willing to find [funding] for us, I say: Why not?” he said.

The board made no decision about working with the firm at the meeting.

Also last week Trustee David Chapman said the village has finalized its brush pick up plan. The crew will pick up brush no larger than four inches in diameter and six feet long on Mondays and Fridays starting April 12 and running through May 17.

The next village meeting will be Thursday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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