In July 2010 Lake George Town employees discover an underground drain pipe, one of six under Battlefield Park that have been draining goundwater illegally into the town septic sewer mains. Old-timers speculate that the pipes were installed underneath the park decades ago by the state when they created the park, as the land was once swamp. This week, Lake George Town Board members discovered that the pipes continue to dump water into their sewer main, which is costing local taxpayers by boosting operational costs at the village sewer treatment plant.
LAKE GEORGE — Town officials expressed frustrations Feb. 13 about groundwater draining off state land into town sanitary sewer pipes and being treated at the village sewer plant at the expense of town taxpayers.
Their concerns were aired as the town heard from new town board member Dan Hurley about ongoing efforts to slip-line the town’s sewer pipes to reduce infiltration.
Town Code Enforcement Officer Rob Hickey said that despite objections aired years ago, clean groundwater was continuing to flow from drain pipes under state-owned Battlefield Park and being dumped into the town’s Caldwell Sewer District transmission line.
Hickey said that town officials took action in July 2010 to cap off the lines that illegally drained and transported the water, but reconnected the pipes just days later because water was backing up in the park.
“How come the state is not paying for this,” town supervisor Dennis Dickinson responded at the Feb. 13 town board meeting.
Old-timers in town have said the drainage pipes were likely installed decades ago by the state Department of Environmental Conservation when the agency created Battlefield Park from former swamp land. The pipes were constructed to drain off underground sources of water that fed the swamp, they’ve speculated.
But in 2010, the state denied knowledge or ownership of the pipes.
For years, town and village officials have been concerned the village sewer system has been overburdened. In 2010, videos taken by a robotic camera inside water pipes confirmed that stormwater flow was a primary culprit for massive inflows.
It was discovered that the pipes under Battlefield Park were delivering a considerable flow — thousands of gallons daily — of clean stormwater into the town’s main transmission line.
For many years, it has been illegal to pump stormwater into the municipal sewer system, which is reserved by law for septic sewage.
The town pays for a share of the village sewer treatment plant’s operation, based on the gallonage it delivers to the plant.
Hurley said that the town taxpayers might be soon shouldering higher costs for sewage treatment, because the village was cutting back on groundwater infiltration in its pipes, effectively boosting the town’s percentage of the flow of water treated.
“The costs to the town may go up because the village has tightened up their lines,” he said, after noting that slip-lining of the town’s sewer pipes is likely to cost $30 to $50 per foot.
Hearing of the groundwater inflows off Battlefield Park, Dickinson said he would be meeting with state Department of Conservation officials to discuss the matter.
On a related issue, Dickinson said he and other town officials were meeting with engineers and reviewing sanitary regulations.
“We are making serious progress,” he said, noting that ordinance changes would be ready for a public hearing in several months.
Sign regulations discussed
In other issues discussed by the board, councilwoman Marisa Muratori noted that although the town years ago had adopted the Lake George Park Commission’s sign regulations, the town had “never enforced them,” she said.
“We should take inventory of what’s out there, review the codes and perhaps update them,” Muratori said, calling for enforcement on limitations of size, illumination, height, and other criteria.
The board set a meeting for 4 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 28 to review the topic.
Sister City donation approved
Also, the board appropriated $1,000 to wards costs of the “Sister City” program that Warren County and Glens Falls operate in conjunction with Saga City, Japan. Dickinson noted that the county cut its funding from $5,000 annually to $1,000, and that Queensbury, Luzerne and Lake George were going to make up most of the difference. Muratori said the program was valuable.
“It’s a major program with a great deal of cultural significance,” she said.
Dickinson said the Sister City group had been a conduit for about $30,000 in local donations toward earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan.
Solar power by fall 2012?
Later, Muratori noted that town officials had made progress on investigating solar power. She said she and others had met with various solar firms, and one had proposed generating far more electricity than needed to power town facilities. She said that one enterprise had suggested installing 15 acres of solar panels to provide a considerable amount of energy, feeding it back to the grid for use by the public.
She said that such a “solar farm” could be erected atop the landfill.
“Such a solar farm would provide sustainable energy for our community,” she said, predicting that agreements to convert to solar panel could be reached in four to six months.
In other business, the town board:
• voted to borrow up to $40,000 to acquire a grinder mechanism for wastewater treatment.
• approved a course through the town for a Ragnar Relay Race event to be held Sept. 28 through 29 — a challenging overnight footrace that is to extend from Saratoga Springs to Lake Placid.
• voted to reinstate the residency requirement for the town Comptroller post. The issue is subject to a public hearing at 7 p.m. March 12.
• approved the new revised town employee handbook.
• set $7.50 per hour as the rate at which town employees can redeem unused sick time.
• heard from Dickinson that up to $300,000 might be available in grant funding for sewer improvements. The town is now considering forming a sewer district to accommodate the proposed Price Chopper store near Northway Exit 23 as well as the sewer discharges from McDonald’s Restaurant, Exit 23 Mobil and Super 8 Motel, all located nearby.
• discussed using the Lake George Fire Department’s personnel van to transport seniors to Glens Falls and gambling trips to Vermont. Town board members noted that using a trolley, as is customary, wasn’t cost-efficient, considering that often there are only two to three passengers.
• proposed that Bert Weber be appointed to represent the town to the Warren County Safe & Quality Cycling Citizens Advisory Committee.
• heard a proposal by Muratori that the town transfer station boost its recycling — as well as offer compost, wood chips to residents and an “educational experience” for local citizens.