The Peekskill Wastewater Treatment Plant (commonly referred to as the sewage treatment plant) has always been an important facility for the residents of the Hollowbrook Water District. The importance stems from the ability to remove parcels using private septic systems to being hooked into the sewer district and have their waste treated at the plant. Thus protecting the extensive web of tributaries that make up the Peekskill water supply.
The plant’s capacity was designed specifically to accommodate the land parcels within the Hollowbrook Watershed. Other such plants were constructed around the county specifically designed for similar purposes in other watersheds such as the Croton Watershed. These plants are owned and operated by the County of Westchester with the exception of a few facilities remaining privately owned and operated.
Legislator Testa at a recent tour of the Peekskill plant
Although the county owns the Peekskill plant, the City has an obligation to the residents in the area to oversee the condition and capacity usage of the plant. As Mayor and now as County Legislator I have requested and initiated millions of dollars of upgrades to improve the efficiency of the plant and especially to mitigate the odors that can emanate from the plant. This can be especially problematic to those residences nearby.
The issue of capacity is a concern for all municipalities that are serviced by the Peekskill plant, as it will directly impact new development. When I was Mayor of Peekskill from 2002-07 we had a tremendous amount of new development and investment in the city that caused us to keep a close eye on the usage of the plant. Although this is not the issue the last 4-5 years for Peekskill there has been considerable new development outside of Peekskill but within the sewer district. It’s only fair that all municipalities involved monitor and notify each other of proposed projects that would need to use the plant’s capacity.
Legislator Testa speaking with the plant supervisor and county engineer while touring the Peekskill plant.
A lack of communication and a misunderstanding of the limitations of the sewer district have caused considerable tension between neighboring municipalities. Some of these tensions could have been avoided with simple communication and inclusion.
Earlier this year I introduced Legislation at the County Board of Legislators that will ensure municipalities throughout Westchester will be better coordinated and informed about the expansion of the local sewer districts that are shared by our communities. On Monday June 3rd at the regular meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, (BOL) the Sewer Stakeholder Notification Law was passed by a unanimous 17-0 vote.
The lack of notification across the municipalities that share sewer infrastructure has been a problem in Westchester for decades. Capacity issues and the protection of the water supply have caused concerns, which have resulted in inter-municipality friction. In my view the county has the responsibility to make sure all affected municipalities are notified of significant projects in the district so they may comment, plan and be involved in the process from the onset. The SEQRA requirement doesn’t always accomplish that. This law does.
Signing on as a cosponsor Legislator Catherine Borgia said, “As a former Town Supervisor of Ossining, I know how important it is for municipalities to share complete information to facilitate good decision making. I applaud Legislator Testa’s common sense law and am happy to cosponsor this legislation.”
The new law requires that any legislative body of any city, town or village in Westchester County considering a resolution to petition the BOL to enlarge an existing sewer district by adding any commercial development of 25,000 square feet or more or the addition of ten residences or more must provide written notification to all the municipalities located within that sewer district or that share a County sewage treatment plant with the affected district.