Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 

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Picente Announces Revised Consent Order To Protect Environment, Economic Growth

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Judy Drabicki today announced an agreement that will halt the discharge of raw sewage into the Mohawk River while providing the county with the flexibility to allow new hookups to its sewer system.

“This agreement fulfills my goals to protect our environment while allowing for continued economic growth,” Picente said. “The final language of the order satisfies my intention of revising the terms of the original consent order, which were punitive in nature, into an accommodation that addresses the pump station problem without punishing the region while we are fixing that problem,” said Picente, who spearheaded efforts to revise the initial order that would have stopped economic expansion in key suburban communities. “Because of the time and effort that Oneida County has invested on behalf of our communities, we now have an agreement with the State DEC that creates a long-term plan for correcting the problem that exists within the sewer district’s infrastructure. This consent order agreement provides a means of going forward with our region’s economic growth and, while it is essential that the County continue to develop businesses and improve our economy, we need to do so while protecting our natural resources, our environment and the well being of our citizens.”

The Consent Order seeks to address the long-running problem of overflows at the Sauquoit Creek pump station during storms. Under terms of the order, the county must develop a plan to bring overflows under control. It also calls for a time frame for progress to be made, beginning with a set of interim remedial measures that take effect within 180 days. Finally, it obligates the county to pay $150,000 in penalties, which includes $30,000 in environmental benefits projects for the creek.

Additionally, the county can allow new hookups to the sewage system, but it must remove at least five gallons of excess flow for every one gallon of wastewater added by a new connection. The goal is to undertake immediate actions to reduce the amount of wastewater overflow while pursuing a permanent solution and not hindering development.

The county is to have a fully developed remedial plan in three years and to complete all associated actions by Oct. 31, 2014.

“I want to commend DEC Commissioner Grannis and his staff, and County Executive Anthony Picente and his staff for negotiating a reasonable compromise on this urgent matter, which balances economic development and environmental safety,” said Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito (D-Rome). “This consent order allows the completion of several major projects that faced an uncertain future due to the existing moratorium on new construction, while protecting the health and safety of residents throughout the region.”

The Sauquoit Creek pump station receives sewage from the villages of Clayville , New York Mills, Yorkville, Whitesboro, New Hartford and Oriskany, plus parts of the towns of Paris, Whitestown and New Hartford. Typically during storms, groundwater, roof drainage, sump pump discharges and other sources combined with wastewater to overload the system, causing the pump station to overflow.

The consent order requires Oneida County to enforce existing agreements or implement new ones with the municipalities to prevent overflows. These agreements are essential to reducing demand on the pump station while a permanent solution is being developed and implemented.

“This order is needed to stem the discharge of untreated sewage to the Mohawk River , a problem that has been growing for many years,” Drabicki said.

“DEC staff, regional staff and Oneida County officials have worked hard on this consent order and we feel it establishes a pathway to complying with environmental laws, conserving water resources and protecting public health,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.

“DEC will continue to work with industry and municipalities for sustainable development that protects our natural resources – open space, air water, fish and wildlife – and our commitment to correcting the Sauquoit Creek pump station discharges is an example of the this,” Drabicki said.