$5,000 fine ‘Fair’ mayor says
The Granville Village Board agreed to pay a $5,000 civil fine Monday night resulting from the accidental discharge of partially treated wastewater into the Mettowee River on July 28.
Mayor Jay Niles said the fine resulted from negotiations with the Department of Environmental Conservation; the village has 30 days to pay the fine.
The DEC initially proposed a $10,000 fine with $2,500 suspended, meaning the village would have paid $7,500, he said. The amount was negotiated to $10,000 with $5,000 of that fine suspended. “I think that’s fair,” Niles said.
Niles said the communication he had from DEC said the village could face the additional $5,000 only if it failed to meet the schedule of compliance.
“There certainly will not be any difficulty in meeting the requirements of that deadline,” Niles said.
“I can understand a fine; it had to be one that is minimal but at the same time allowed the DEC to maintain their standards too,” Niles said.
Despite the fines, Niles said, the result is a positive one. “The other part is it’s a great idea to have an alarm on those pumps,” he said.
DEC said the village must do three things to be in compliance with the order, including having an engineer evaluate the wastewater treatment plant control and alarm system, submit a report detailing that evaluation and make “necessary upgrades to its control and alarm system as recommended by the evaluation approved by the Department.”
The engineer’s evaluation must be complied with by Oct. 1 and the village must submit a summary report by Oct. 15. The village has until Nov. 15 for the installation of the trickling filter alarms.
On July 28 wastewater treatment supervisor Dan Williams alerted DEC officials he violated his discharge permits after realizing there was a problem. Williams said he took actions to try to mitigate the effects of the failure of a trickling filter pump.
The pump that failed was tasked with returning clouded water to a spot near the beginning of the water treatment plant during the sludge collection process. Williams’ actions caused the discharge of approximately 250,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater containing more solids than was allowed under the village discharge permit.
Niles said the chief focus of the DEC order was the addition of an alarm system to the plant, which would alert Williams should a pump failure occur again. The alarm would sound, as well as dialing officials to alert them to the failure.
A similar system already alerts village officials to failures within the drinking water system, Williams said.
Williams said the process for installing the pump alarm was about half complete on Sept. 14. Williams said he planned to go out to bid on the remaining work needed, which he estimated would cost about $3,000. The work would be complete long before the deadline for action, he said.
“This took a lot of discussion,” Niles said.
Niles said the village’s compliance record, the fact that officials took immediate action and responsibility for the spill factored into the decision to levy a minimal fine. “We’re making sure to follow all directives to maintain an efficient plant,” Niles said.