The village of Granville faces potential fines of up to $150,000 following what state environmental conservation officials are saying is a much larger release of partially treated wastewater into the Mettowee River.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 spokesman David Winchell said in an e-mail: “On Tuesday, July 28, the Granville Waste Water Treatment Plant released 250,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater in the (Mettowee) River over a period of several hours. The plume of turbidity from this event could be seen 8 to 10 miles downstream. Note that during the same period it is calculated that almost 16 million gallons of water flowed through this section of the river.”
Plant supervisor Dan Williams initially estimated the discharge had taken place during a limited time when the trickling filter pump stopped operating. Williams said at the time he had no way to estimate how much discharge had come from the plant because he did not know how long the pump had been inoperative.
Winchell said the plant was in violation of its operating permit as late as 7 p.m. on the night of the incident.
Winchell said the violations of Environmental Conservation Law Article 17 relating to protection of waters were issued Aug. 6 and include, “Unlawfully causing contravention of water quality standards by causing visible turbidity of the (Mettowee) River; prohibited discharge (partially treated wastewater) into the (Mettowee) River in excess of levels allowed under the treatment plant’s permit; discharge of pollutants, total suspended solids, in excess of levels allowed under the treatment plant’s permit; and failure properly operate and maintain equipment (the failed pump) at the treatment plant.”
While it was not clear what those notices would lead to Williams said the village can still face fines for the discharge. Mayor Jay Niles must call the DEC by Tuesday to acknowledge receipt of the notices, he said.
Niles said he had a conference call with DEC officials recently to discuss the next step in the process for dealing with the wastewater spill.
“We have agreed to fully cooperate with this investigation,” Niles said.
Niles said the question everyone wanted to answer was: ‘What happened to the pumps?’
“I know that’s my question,” he said. The pump is believed to have shut down due to overheating.
The pump supplying the trickling filter stopped some time during the routine removal of solids from the bottom of the final clarifying tank, causing the water to become cloudy with subsequent steps taken to attempt to remedy the problem, in fact, compounding it. Those steps led to the discharge of water containing well in excess of the 30 mg/liter of solids — a violation of the plant’s operating permit, officials said.
Williams said he anticipated having someone from the DEC work with him at the plant to develop a plan for dealing with this issue should it happen again.
The plan would help to bridge the gap between the present and a time when the plant upgrade is completed later this year. With the disc filters installed, the potential for the problem is eliminated, Williams said.
One step already discussed with DEC was the installation of an alarm system. Williams said the village already has a system that will alert him by phone when there is a failure at the water filtration plant and he expects to implement the same system for the wastewater treatment plant.
For the alarms, Niles said, “We’re going to do that very soon.”