SCRIBA, N.Y. – More than $15 million in federal funding is heading to the town of Scriba to pay for the installation of a sewer system to the town’s nuclear power plants and hundreds of properties adjacent to the proposed route.
Local congressional representatives recently announced the $15,011,000 loan, which was secured through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The Scriba wastewater project would offer sewer access to nearly 1,000 residents by extending existing sewer lines down county Route 1 and county Route 1A toward the Nine Mile Point and James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plants.
As part of the project, which was designed by Canton-based engineering firm C2AE, a new sewage collection system would be installed and the town would construct a new 0.5 MGD wastewater treatment facility near the Lake Ontario shoreline off county Route 1.
Scriba Supervisor Jim Oldenburg said the total project cost is a little more than $15 million, and the power plants would be sharing the cost with the town, and the project will ultimately be paid for by the users of the sewer district.
Oldenburg said the sewer project would help the plants with their current needs in addition to providing town residents the opportunity to move from septic systems to the sewer if they choose.
"We are also looking at the reduction of costs the uses pay now," Oldenburg said of the town's current sewer users. "And planning for future growth."
Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, who helped secure the funding, said the USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Program is “critical to improving water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities,” and the Scriba project would help the town modernize its infrastructure.
“It is critical that we ensure central New Yorkers have access to affordable sanitation and clean drinking water,” Katko said.
Scriba officials in an environmental review application for the project noted the town is pursuing the wastewater extension due to a number of failing septic systems within the proposed sewer area, in addition to a number of discharges in recent years from the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant that exceeded prescribed limits.
Oswego County officials have continually said in recent years the expansion of infrastructure, and particularly wastewater service, is crucial to future development in the area. Dave Turner, Oswego County’s director of community development, tourism and planning, noted local municipalities often expand their water districts to provide quality drinking water for residents, but sewer projects and expansions are more expensive and have not regularly occurred in the county.
“As we have said on many occasions, municipal wastewater service is one of the infrastructure issues that we need to make further investments in,” Turner said. “Not only will these types of projects position us for greater economic development opportunities, but in this case, given its proximity to Lake Ontario, it will help protect that body of water from any septic system failures along this corridor.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced the grant awards, along with more than $20 million for other projects across New York, last week, and said the funding would allow towns and villages across upstate New York “make critical improvements to their water systems.” Schumer and Katko both vowed to continue fighting to ensure rural communities have the resources needed to build and maintain essential infrastructure.
The Nine Mile Point and FitzPatrick plants each have their own wastewater treatment facilities, the town noted, but if the proposed project were completed those systems would be redirected to the new treatment plant, which would be owned and operated by the town.
In addition to providing the town’s nuclear power plants, which are the main economic driver and largest taxpayers in Scriba, with improved wastewater infrastructure, Katko said the grant would also help drive up property values in the area.
“This grant targets rural areas that may not have the money, and I’ve advocated repeatedly for robust support for programs to modernize rural facilities,” Katko said, reached by phone Wednesday, adding he’s “thrilled” Scriba received the funding.
Oldenburg said the sewer project is currently in the study phase, and would not be shovel ready for "a while yet."