BRUSHTON –– Plans to construct a water and sewer system to serve village residents took a step forward Thursday when the Village Board signed off on findings that the projects would have no significant impact on the environment.
The board, which had taken on lead agency status for the project last month, voted unanimously to issue a “negative declaration” under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
But the engineer on the project cautioned that the environmental review process is still far from over.
Kevin Feuka told Village Board members that findings that the proposed systems will have no environmental impact still must be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office before the projects can receive final approval. That review process will include a check of the findings by the federal agencies and a 30-day period in which the public can raise concerns that may not have been addressed, he said.
Still, Feuka said he was encouraged by the determinations by several state and federal agencies –– including the state departments of environmental conservation and health, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the state historic preservation office –– that construction of the wells, wastewater treatment plant and the lines serving both facilities would not create any adverse environmental impacts.
“I’ve never come across an environmental review where nothing’s found,” making the determinations by the various agencies highly unusual, he said.
The agencies looked at the properties under consideration for the wells and well house, the treatment plant and the expected routes of the pipes that would carry water from the wells and sewage to the treatment plant, he said. The village has not yet determined precise locations for the wells and well house, with seven potential sites –– all outside the village –– still being explored, Feuka said. A hydrogeologist is expected to visit the area the week of Feb. 24 to help narrow down the potential locations, he said.
Once the locations have been determined, the village will still need the state Health Department to determine the wells will produce acceptable water and the sewer plant will need a state permit to discharge treated water into the Little Salmon River, Feuka noted.
Several of those at Thursday’s Village Board meeting raised questions about the findings in a possible preview of the public comment period.
Community activist Isabelle Dorey expressed doubts that the treated water to be discharged into the river would have no adverse effects. Feuka said that while the water might not be potable, it would be clean enough to have no impact on the waterway.
“The first time I see a dead fish, I’m calling,” Dorey responded.
Trustee Sue Martin also raised concerns about the operation of the well house, where the pumps that will draw water from the wells will be housed. She asked about noise the machinery would generate and smells that might emanate from the building.
Feuka said the pumps would be in the well shafts and inside the well house, making it unlikely any noise would be heard past the property boundaries. He acknowledged that there might be some smells created by the generator used to power the wells, but again said the effect on neighboring properties would be negligible.
The only issue neighbors might notice would be the security lights that would be installed at the facilities, he said.
Properties in the village currently rely on private wells and septic systems. Talk of constructing water and sewer systems came after residents complained of oily or hard water, and some expressed concerns about the proximity of septic systems to nearby wells.
A $30,000 grant, available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Services program, paid for preliminary engineering studies and the environmental reviews.