Cazenovia Lake Sewers: A rush to judgment

Guest Column

The town of Cazenovia has advised four groups of Cazenovia Lake property owners that they each need to install new waste treatment systems (sewers, a septic retrofit or a peat system).

The town has stated that the combined cost of the systems will be $3.3 million, which is to be borne solely by the members within each district created. The town has provided no information as to the cost for each property owner to connect to such a new system but acknowledges that such a cost may be very significant.

At the Oct. 3 meeting of the Watershed Council we asked the town’s representatives how much confidence they had in the project’s estimated cost. When pressed for an answer we were told the estimate could be off by 20 to 40 percent. A variance of this magnitude is not inconsequential.

Are sewers and the other proposed treatment systems the right answer for the problems faced by the lake? What is the goal? The answer to the question of whether and to what extent sewers will solve the problems of the lake is quite complex, and worthy of a thoughtful discussion based on hard reliable information.

In absolute terms — and were money of no concern — no one could argue that sewers are not better than malfunctioning or nonfunctioning septic systems. That said, the town has not released any information as to how many septic systems on the lake have failed and with regard to any such systems how many can not be repaired or replaced by the existing property owner.

How many owners, if so required, have adequate land to install a new system or leach field?

When, why and by whom was a decision made for the lake property owners that they needed to install sewers to address the problems of the lake? We do not know this answer but we do know some things.

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