Dresden faces sewer dilemma with design flaw discovered

By Matthew Saari

Due to a 20-year-old design oversight, the city of Dresden finds itself between a rock and a hard place – or rather between a sewer pipe and a potentially hefty fine.

City Supervisor Paul Ferguson provided both city council and the public with an update on the city’s sewer district one, located in Huletts Landing, at Monday’s monthly meeting.

Ferguson said with a grant in place as well as a Community Bank loan, he would contact LaBella Associates, a Rochester-based engineering firm with offices across the state, to “get things done.”

“This is my next step moving forward,” he said.

In a follow-up call Tuesday afternoon, Ferguson explained the conundrum.

Dresden has two sewer districts, both at Huletts Landing. The first has about 86 connected households. The second district has 26. Both operate similarly in that sewage is discharged from homes to grinder pump stations, which then pump the sewage to the Huletts Golf Course.

“The golf course has a storage tank underneath,” Ferguson said.

Once the storage tank reaches capacity, Doran Brothers, a septic tank disposal company based in Fair Haven, Vermont, pumps out the sludge and disposes of it.

The problem, Ferguson explained, is that a 20-foot section of the pipe that carries the sewage is above ground, connected to a small wooden bridge.

“They should have put it under the bridge,” Ferguson said, adding that the reason the line wasn’t buried was because the town fathers deemed it too expensive at the time.

“It was a $7,000 option 20 years ago,” he said.

Over the past few years, beaver dams upstream of the bridge have failed and subsequently released large deluges of water and stones onto the bridge and sewer pipe.

So far the pipe has withstood the machinations of beavers, but the question now is “for how long?”

If the pipe breaks, its smelly contents will be dumped in the immediate area – including Lake George – which results in significant fines from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“I don’t even want to know what it would cost,” Ferguson said.

Fortunately, the city secured a $25,000 grant from the state to begin an engineering study of the project as well as a $200,000 loan from the Community Bank that will go towards this sewer project as well as another involving the snaking of cameras in sewer lines, checking the integrity of Huletts Landing’s sewer infrastructure, which Ferguson says dates back to the early 1980s.

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