Residential Guidelines to Protect Water Quality in Cayuga County

The Cayuga County Nutrient and Sediment Working Group of the Cayuga County WQMA prepared the Residential Guidelines to Protect Water Quality in Cayuga County, a set of guidelines recommended for homeowners to follow in order to minimize the impact of stormwater from their properties.  This document was approved and adopted by the Cayuga County WQMA on February 6, 2020 and the Cayuga County Legislature on February 25, 2020.

The Cayuga County WQMA and Legislature encourages the adoption and implementation of these practices among all people.

These guidelines are available here.

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to Hold Public Meeting for Cleanup of Groundwater at the Cayuga County Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site, Cayuga County, New York

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the opening of a 30-day public comment period on the Proposed Plan to address the cleanup of contaminated groundwater in a portion of the Cayuga County Groundwater Contamination Superfund site in Cayuga County, New York.  As part of the public comment period, EPA will hold a public meeting on August 8, 2019, at 6:30 p.m., at the Union Springs High School located at 239 Cayuga Street, Union Springs, New York.  The meeting will address the proposed cleanup plan and will allow community members to comment on the proposed plan to EPA officials.

Based on the results of the supplemental Investigation Study Report, EPA recommends monitored natural attenuation as the preferred alternative in the Proposed Plan. The preferred alternative includes a long-term monitoring plan and implementation of institutional controls limiting groundwater use.

The proposed plan is available at www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/cayuga and at the Seymour Public Library, 176 Genesee Street, Auburn, NY and the EPA Records Center, 290 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY.

Comments regarding EPA’s preferred remedy must be submitted by August 27, 2019, to Isabel R. Fredricks, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA, 290 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866, rodrigues.isabel@epa.gov

Update on former Powerex Site

For the next four weeks, you may see activity at the former Powerex site as the pilot remediation project to treat contaminated groundwater is entering another phase. Workers at the facility, which is located just outside of the City of Auburn on West Genesee St, will be continuing the remedial work that was begun in 2018 by injecting treatment chemicals into the groundwater which should help to break down the contaminants that are present. Please see the Auburn Powerex Fact Sheet from the United State Environmental Protection Agency regarding this project.

Sewage Discharges

The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law, which was passed in 2012 in New York State, gives the public the right to know when untreated or partially treated sewage is discharged from a public sewer system into New York waters, allowing the public to avoid unnecessary exposure to dangerous sewage pollution.

Untreated and partially treated sewage discharges from public sewer systems may happen during a heavy rainstorm or significant snowmelt when storm water runoff enters the sewer system to a point where it overwhelms the capacity of the system and spills into the environment. Other reasons for a discharge include sewer system blockages, structural, mechanical or electrical failures, collapsed or broken sewer pipes, and vandalism. The older a sewer system is, the more likely it is to experience sewage discharges.

New York State requires that a municipality make public notification within four hours of a sewage discharge. Notification happens via local news outlets and the website of the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In addition, the DEC will produce a statewide Sewage Discharge Report each year that will report annual discharges and remedial responses taken.

People interested in receiving these notifications can sign up with NY-Alert. It is free and you can enroll here: https://alert.ny.gov/enroll. You can choose how to receive the notifications, such as phone, email, text, or fax. You can also choose to receive other alerts related to weather, road closures, public health issues, missing children and other emergencies.

If your home is served by a public sewer system, you can help reduce the likelihood of a sewage overflow, and therefore protect water quality, in the following ways:

1. Conserve water.

Reducing the amount of water used in your home also reduces the volume of water in the public sewer system, thereby decreasing the potential for sewage overflows during storm events. The following steps will help – shut off faucets when not in use, repair leaking faucets or pipes, take shorter showers, install low flow faucets, showerheads and flush toilets, replace older dishwashers and washing machines with newer, water conserving models, and use rainwater to water your gardens by installing rain barrels.

2. Don’t Dump Fats, Oil and Grease Down Drains.

Grease, oils or fatty substances dumped down residential or restaurant kitchen sinks can build-up in sewer pipes. These build-ups can cause overflows or back-ups of sewage into homes. Instead of dumping them down the sink, allow fats, oils and grease to cool and dispose of them in the trash


Congealed fats, oils and grease in a sewer pipe. Image: Town of Tyngsborough, MA

3. What Not to Flush

Diapers, moist wipes, and personal hygiene products that are commonly flushed down the toilet can damage or clog sewer systems and wastewater treatment equipment causing a sewage overflow. Do not flush any of these items, even when they are labeled as flushable. Throw them in the trash.

For more information on the City of Auburn’s “Wipes Clog Pipes” public education campaign, please click here.

Seth Jensen’s presentation “Combined Sewer Overflow Presentation” from the December 2018 WQMA meeting.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day to be held

On October 20, 2018, Cayuga County will once again be hosting a Household Hazardous Waste Day giving residents of the City of Auburn and County of Cayuga the opportunity to safely discard hazardous household chemicals.  The event is FREE, but residents interested in attending however MUST register by October 19th at: https://pub.cce.cornell.edu/event_registration/main/events_landing.cfm?event=HHW2018_205.

Hazardous materials contain ingredients that when improperly disposed of can pose significant health, safety and environmental risks.  Pouring hazardous materials in the drain, flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash are not proper measures of disposal.  Many hazardous materials can go through wastewater treatment facilities untouched because they don’t breakdown in the process and will eventually be released into rivers, lakes and streams. Dumping several products down the drain at the same time can also cause chemical reactions that release toxic gases.  By throwing hazardous waste in a garbage can, we create a health risk to anyone who may unknowingly come into contact with it, such as a sanitation worker.

 These items aren’t your regular trash. Protect yourself, your family and your environment by getting rid of them the right way.

 Acceptable Household Hazardous Wastes To Bring to this Event Include: 

  • Products containing chemicals
  • Oil based paints, oil based stains
  • Turpentine, paint thinners, brush cleaners
  • Pesticides (weed killers, insect sprays, fungicides)
  • Mercury thermometers, barometers and liquid mercury (quick silver)
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs (contains mercury)
  • Liquid driveway sealer
  • Household cleaners
  • Gasoline, gas/oil, oil/water, gas/water mixtures
  • Antifreeze
  • Mothballs
  • Pool chemicals
  • Photograph developing chemicals
  • Button cell batteries (from hearing aids, cameras, etc.)
  • Propane tanks
  • Smoke detectors

Look for warnings on labels such as DANGER, CAUTION, TOXIC, FLAMMABLE, CORROSIVE or REACTIVE.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Alkaline AA, AAA, C, D or 9-volt batteries are not accepted at this event.  They areNOT toxic and can go in the trash.
  • We can NOT accept rechargeable batteries.  Please bring them to Lowes or Home Depot to recycle for free.
  • Latex paint is NOT accepted at this event.  For latex paint disposal, check out: http://www.cayugacounty.us/portals/0/planning/documents/paint.pdf

If you have any questions about a specific item being accepted, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County at (315) 255-1183.

This event is sponsored by the Cayuga County Legislature, Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development and the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District. Communication and registration is provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County. Major funding is provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Cayuga County Legislature.