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Whispering Oaks homes go under inspection

The Whispering Oaks septic tank must be cleaned as the town of Lysander works to fix sewage problems in the development off of Route 370, Town Supervisor Barry Bullis told the town board at its Aug. 9 meeting.

"The guys have got to be able to get in there and clean it," Bullis said. "There was probably a foot of grease on top."

Sewage violations in the Whispering Oaks neighborhood's Ashington Drive septic system led the state Department of Environmental Conservation to fine residents in July. The DEC reported three sewage breakouts from the system beginning in 2008.

Waste material escaped from two absorption beds, likely due to a process known as water mounding. Water mounding occurs when soil becomes oversaturated and can cause sewage to overflow.

Onondaga County helped the town secure a discount the last time the septic tank needed to be cleaned, which was approximately four years ago, Bullis said. That cleaning cost around $9,000, he said.

"I'm in the process of obtaining quotes," Bullis said. "I'm going to be asking the county for assistance, if they can give us equipment or a discount."

Lysander will attempt to hold down the cost of cleaning the 14,000-gallon septic tank by diverting incoming water while cleaning is taking place, Bullis said. When the tank was cleaned four years ago, water continued to flow into the tank, which required crews to perform additional pumping. That drove up the cost of cleaning, he said.

The town is also overseeing inspections of Whispering Oaks homes' sewage connections to determine whether water is being improperly discharged into the septic system, which could have contributed to the water mounding problem. So far 41 inspections have been completed, and Lysander is trying to schedule inspections at two more homes, Bullis said.

"We have confirmed the existence of 24 water softeners," he said. "Five have been disconnected. Seven have been deemed code-compliant."

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