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Town of Lewiston: Heavy rains resulting in backups

Mon, Apr 16th 2018 04:00 pm
By Terry Duffy
Water, water, everywhere, and nowhere for it to go.
As Western New York continues to be deluged with heavy rains coming off a weekend of ice storms, wastewater treatment plants throughout the area are now contending with excessive inflow/infiltration problems. It's the result of plants receiving excessive stormwater run-off combined with the handling of normal sewage inflow/infiltration.
It is creating a problem of capacity overflows, which is now causing backup issues affecting residences, including those in Lewiston, Youngstown and Porter.
An email to The Sentinel on Monday morning from a concerned Lewiston resident indicated a worrisome backup on Creek Road. She expressed concern about flushed water returning into her home.
Lewiston Wastewater Treatment Plant Administrator Jeff Ritter said the problem is due to the heavy precipitation that's hit the area. Rain totals have been building over past days and are forecast to top the 3-inch range in northern Niagara. Ritter said all this rain is creating excessive stormwater flows and problems threatening to overwhelm the plant's sewage treatment system.
"The worst is here already; the pumping here cannot keep up," Ritter said.
The direct result of that over-capacity, particularly in neighborhoods with older or smaller lines, is inflow and infiltration penetrating residential basements.
Ritter said that, when heavy rainfall occurs, it creates high stormwater flows. Due to the treatment plant's limited capacity, water ultimately gets combined with the plant's sewage inflow/infiltration treatment process.
"Houses are being surcharged due to heavy water in the line," Ritter said.
He advised residents encountering backup problems to contact the wastewater treatment plant directly at 716-754-8291 for advice on how to shut off the sewer lateral - a corrective measure that requires hiring a licensed plumber.
"The town can provide residences their expertise, but cannot solve their problems," Ritter said.
To ultimately address this, he said the property owner would need to have a check valve installed in the sewer line to prevent backups - a job that involves contacting a plumber.
Ritter said that, for the time being, Lewiston wastewater plant officials - like those at similar facilities in the area - have resorted to a process of releasing partially treated wastewater overflows directly into area waterways. For Lewiston, he said the handling process involves one of the combined stormwater/partially treated wastes being allowed to settle from one holding tank to another, followed by chlorination and ultimate release to the river.
"From all this, we're releasing 99 percent clean water into the river," he said.
The Lewiston Wastewater Treatment Plant serves the quad-community district of the Village and Town of Lewiston, Village of Youngstown and Town of Porter.

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