Cazenovia Lake Sewers: A rush to judgment

Guest Column

The town publicly launched the formal discussion of the sewer project in September 2011. At that time it supported its decision for the project, at least in part, by having a presentation and a study disseminated by James Cunningham, president of the Madison County Federation of Lake Associations.

The study, in addition to other matters, reported water sampling done at 23 identified sites on the lake and reported on Optical Brighteners and E-Coli. Some of the areas tested appeared to produce good quality water samples while others showed poor to very poor results.

When Cunningham was asked about how and under what conditions he took the water samples he advised that because of time constraints placed on him by the town board, he was forced to conduct his test after a period of heavy rain and while there was wind on the lake.

Based in no small part on the study, the town engaged some students from Syracuse University to conduct a poll of property owners to see how many were in support of a sewer and water project. In February or March of 2012, the students sent out the questions. When the answers were received and tallied, the students reported that they had sent out 380 questionnaires. Of that number,248 people responded, with considerably less than half of the number being in favor of the project. It is interesting to note, using the poll’s numbers, that 84 properties not now covered by sewers will not be covered by the proposed project.

In the fall of 2012, at the request of the town, Cunningham retested the same 23 sites for E-Coli and obtained materially different results. One might reasonably inquire what results should be used when deciding for or against the proposed project.

On Oct. 3, 2012 there was a meeting of the Cazenovia Lake Watershed Council. At the meeting a number of lake residents asked the members of the council, including elected town officials, whether they had the quality and quantity of information required to make an informed decision as to whether sewers would solve the water quality issues faced by the lake. To formalize some of our concerns we gave those present a list of some of the questions that we thought should be discussed or answered before a decision on sewers should be made. A copy of the questions presented to the town has been enclosed with this column.

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