Home septic systems have proven ineffective for cleaning wastewater that enters Cazenovia Lake. The highest levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and E. coli are typically found near the shore, Phosphorus is the primary nutrient that enhances all aquatic plant growth in lakes.
The town of Cazenovia recently approved up to $10,000 funding for a study on vacuum sewer system installation around Cazenovia Lake.
The study will provide an official cost estimate for the project.
Vacuum sewers are proposed for lakeside properties to address the significant amount of human wastewater seeping into the lake. The wastewater contributes to unsafe E. coli levels and provides nutrition for invasive plant species in the lake.
Dunn & Sgromo Engineers will prepare the study, which will identify the limits of cost for the entire project, and estimate the costs for the individual property owners.
The engineers will also examine the costs, benefits and drawbacks for other options of lakeside sanitation — including the option of not taking any action and not installing any form of sewer system.
One approach for system installation could be the creation of four separate sewer districts around the lake, and staggering the installation over time in separate phases.
Town Engineer John Dunkle, who is an employee of Dunn & Sgromo Engineers, said the new cost evaluation would be more accurate than the preliminary cost estimates he presented at a town meeting in October. Dunn & Sgromo’s original preliminary cost estimate was $7.5 million for the entire project.
“Construction costs will be refined and broken down,” Dunkle said. “The layout of the system will be further evaluated and refined, and all of [the expected costs] will be put together for a prediction of the cost to the individual property owners.”
This engineering study is needed to create a sewer district for properties around the lake; the sewer district would create a new tax district of properties that could be charged for a sewer system’s installation and upkeep.
State law for the establishment of a new sewer district requires a petition that’s signed by property owners in the purposed district. Approval from the people, who own at least a 51-percent majority of the assessed value of the purposed district, is needed to create a district. This means that the more assessed value a property has, the more say its owner has in deciding if the town will install a sewer system around the lake.