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Newcomb scrambling to meet state wastewater mandate

NEWCOMB - Newcomb town officials are under the gun as the state Department of Environmental Conservation has ordered the town to revamp its waste water treatment plant operating procedures within the next two weeks.

The order, which was received by the town on March 26, states that a number of regulation changes and plant retrofitting must begin by April 15.

Recent DEC studies have found that surface runoff is infiltrating the town sewer system and requiring the plant to process more water than it is capable of.

"Much of the DEC criteria has already been accomplished," Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said April 1. "But we just don't have time to do everything the order requires of us."

The Newcomb sewer system services 87 town residents, which should translate to about 12,000 gallons of waster water on a given day.

At its peak, the plant has seen much higher rates of flow.

"We had days of 100,000 gallons," Canon said.

According to Canon, much of the problem came from flooded basements which accompany spring run-off.

"People were pumping out their basements and putting it right into the sewer system," Canon said. "We adopted a local law which requires people to pump water from flooded basements onto their lawns or somewhere where it won't enter the system - it seems to be working."

According to Canon, Newcomb has $750,000 in state funding that was initially earmarked for purchase of the local railroad line in 2004. This money can be converted into funding for the construction of a new waste water plant, he said.

"With all of the problems the state is having I am a little concerned about the money being there," Canon said. "But I have been reassured several times that it is."

Recent estimates state that the new plant will cost approximately $1.6 million to construct.

"That's a lot of money to bond for 87 users," Canon said.

Canon said that although many of the construction contracts have already been signed, the process is nowhere near ready to begin.

For example, the State Historic Preservation Organization still needs to conduct a survey of the site before any construction commences.

"We have to wait until spring to even conduct the appropriate analysis," Canon said.

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