DEC says sewer link in Fonda incorrect

FONDA – Complaints from a resident of Digiorgi Lane about a sinkhole in front of her home led to the village receiving a notice of violation from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC Environmental Program Specialist Maria King Isaacson sent a notice of violation about the issue to Mayor Bill Peeler earlier this month.

“It has been brought to the attention of this office that there is a section of the sanitary sewer on Digiorgi Lane that is connected to a storm sewer. This connection is considered a discharge that is in violation of the Environmental Conservation Law, which prohibits the discharge of sewage unless authorized by a [state] permit,” Isaacson said in a letter. “The connection of the sanitary sewer to the storm sewer on Digiorgi Lane, and any other such known connections, must be corrected.”

Peeler, in an email, said crews are looking into the problem.

“This situation has been addressed as much as we have been able to because of cost and weather delays. The situation will be corrected by the end of next week, according to our DPW Supervisor,” Peeler said.

According to Isaacson’s notice, the DEC was first contacted about the issue in August when Antonietta D’Alfonsi, of 3 Digiorgi Lane, notified the agency.

According to D’Alfonsi, a sinkhole had developed in front of her home, and the smell of raw sewage emanated from the hole.

Isaacson said village Street and Water Commissioner Christopher Weaver, who also handles the Department of Public Works, was contacted to confirm that the village was aware of the issue.

However, on Feb. 4, D’Alfonsi complained to the DEC the hole had yet to be repaired, and the smell was still in the air.

According to Isaacson’s letter, Weaver said an open sanitary sewer was located at the bottom of the hole, and the system on that side of the street was connected to the storm sewer.

“The sewer has been open, other than a metal plate partly covering the hole in the street, since August,” Isaacson said. “Sediment entering the open sewer during storm events is believed to have caused a sewage backup into a residence on the street in February, which was since fixed.”

D’Alfonsi confirmed her house had suffered a sewage backup.

Isaacson said it was the understanding of DEC the village has plans to disconnect the sanitary sewer from the storm sewer and connect it to a sanitary line on the other side, which would include replacing the sewer lines and installing a new manhole.

Gene Kelly, regional director of the DEC, said in a letter to D’Alfonsi that Weaver and Fonda DPW staff had not noticed any odors in the area.

“As far as he knows, the sanitary sewer system is not causing or affected by any of these problems,” Kelly said.

In a letter to D’Alfonsi, Andrea Dzierwa of the DEC’s Region 4 office said she should notify the state Health Dept. District office in Herkimer to investigate.

Weaver, when asked for a comment, directed questions to Peeler, saying he was unauthorized to speak on the matter.

Peeler said the village has been trying repair and replace the infrastructure it can.

“The village of Fonda has very old infrastructure and having been in office now for nearly 11 months, I have made it a priority to work with our board members in repairing and replacing as much of the sanitary, water and storm system, as we may afford,” Peeler said in the email. “We have had our crews working to this end all summer long, with positive results ending in a saving of over $14,000 in production cost for treating water between the months of April 2012 and December 2012. This number continues to grow with every leak and infiltration point we locate, to include the past week where an additional water leak, losing 100,000 gallons per day, was located and repaired.”

DPW workers are scheduled to complete the Digiorgi Lane paving “when the blacktop plants [resume] operation again this year,” Peeler said.