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Vienna: Sewage system failing

Raw sewage is leaking onto the ground in Vienna's East Oneida Lake Sewer District.

The district uses individual grinder pumps to send sewage into a gravity operated main line near the intersection of Routes 13 and 49 also called the Y Hill. From there it flows down hill to Sylvan Beach where it connects with the village sewage treatment plant.

The failed pumps are located across Rt. 49 from Shar-Mar Supplies, a plumbing store, and behind the Port Side's Pub & Restaurant, at the Y Hill. The sewer district was created in the mid-90s.

Shar-Mar's look's like a broken line going into the pump station, said Rich Coriale of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Coriale said the activation of the pump might have caused the line to shear, or it could be because of frost heave if the pump was not installed deep enough below grade. The second pump, behind the Port Side Pub, receives waste water pumped uphill from a neighboring carwash where it is fed into the gravity system. Coriale said the pump either didn't activate or was jammed, which resulted in effluent puddling up behind the restaurant.

Every year, we get several complaints, Coriale said of the grinder pumps. It's starting to be problematic.

Coriale said the pumps were very difficult for homeowners to maintain by themselves.

We only permit them if the municipality agrees to take on the maintenance responsibility, Coriale said.

The design standard requires the sewer district have spare parts and grinder pumps in reserve so if a failed pump couldn't be fixed in the field, it could be swapped out and sent for repair. But at around $500 a copy, a homeowner having a spare on hand would be unrealistic.

It's a public hazard, said Nick Derosa, Oneida County Health Department director. With the discharge of sewage, you don't know what bacteria are in there.

Derosa said affected residents need to be careful with pets and children who could track the effluent into the house. A first response might be to spread lime to deter the odor, but the best practice is to remove and replace the topsoil, he said.

Vienna Supervisor P. Michael Piper refused to comment on the leaking sewage.

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