Residents of Whispering Oaks in Lysander have been fined $450 by the Department of Environmental Conservation for sewage violations that occurred at the neighborhood's septic system located on Ashington Drive.
The 48 households within the Whispering Oaks sewage district will also be held financially responsible for clean-up, short-term mitigation and a long-term solution. The total cost is conservatively estimated to exceed $850,000.
Beginning in 2008, the DEC reported three incidents of sewage breakouts from the community's septic system. Effluent escaped from two of eight absorption beds, and while the definitive cause of the outbreak is so far unknown, it is suspected to be due to a process known as water mounding.
When soil becomes over-saturated with liquid to the point where it raises the water table, water mounding can occur. This drastically reduces soil absorption, causing the sewage to overflow.
The Town of Lysander has recently returned a signed consent form to the DEC that creates a timeline for both a temporary solution to the sewage breakout as well as a permanent fix. If the town meets the agreed upon milestones, the second component of the fine, totaling $2250, will be suspended.
"We're working with them to draw up a reasonable compliance schedule. The DEC is flexible, though, because we're doing our best to cooperate," said Town Supervisor Barry Bullis.
Lysander is expected to submit a final design contract to the DEC by May 31, 2011, and has reached substantial completion of the permanent solution a year later.
Several temporary fixes are currently on the drawing table. The Town's engineering firm is considering building a containment berm, installing onsite storage for any overflow, as well as possibly creating another absorption bed.
In addition, the town plans to deodorize the area using agricultural lime or spray chlorine.
"We are working towards the most cost-effective solution here," said engineer Ken Knutsen. "Every nickel will be the responsibility of residents within the sewer district."