County studying sewer expansion

Goshen is possibility due to Harriman problems

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  • Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Photo illustration of a waste water treatment tank.

By Edie Johnson

Orange County has struggled with concerns over the dwindling capacity at Harriman Sewer Plant for years. But early plans to do another expansion in Harriman is unlikely due to the amount of effluent going into the Ramapo River which supplies water to much of northern New Jersey. Attempts to explore a second plant in Chester that would dump effluent into the Blackmeadow Creek were quickly nixed by both the town and village. Both the Blackmeadow Creek and Otterkill Creek in Chester are identified as threatened waterways requiring protection.

While there is a need for more sewer capacity throughout the county, one of the prime targets for improvement has been Chester. The county has been bound by a promise to provide capacity to developer Joel Mounty for a high-density development on the 258-acre former Camp LaGuardia site on the border of Chester and Blooming Grove.

Earlier this year, the county hired Delaware Engineering Company to study sewer plan expansion options. That report is due next year.

Troubles at HarrimanThe Harriman sewage treatment plant has been cited multiple times in the past by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for discharging more wastewater than permitted into the Ramapo River.

New environmental controls are coming into effect very soon, and they include measuring residual sodium chloride in effluent that is discharged after the sewer treatment process.

Peter Hammond, Orange County Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Services, says that measurements at the Harriman plant show that their effluent already has salts that will exceed the new limits. Meanwhile, it provides all the more reason to seek other sites rather than endless expansion at Harriman.

The study is expected to cost $500,000 to $535,000.

A More Regional ApproachEnter the state-owned Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Facility on Rt. 17M in Goshen. Officials say they think they found "a gold nugget". They became aware during the early part of the study that there is a waste treatment plant that lies across from the center.

Its users along 17M would become a new sewer district. That plan could provide capacity for the stretch of businesses in the 17M corridor , including Amy's Kitchen, which is looking to build a large natural/organic food processing plant within reach.

Hammond said there has been talk of running sewer lines from Chester to Goshen. If Chester effluent were pumped to Goshen it would then free more of the capacity at the main Harriman plant.

Some legislators did not jump on board so fast. Legislator James Kulisek (D-Newburgh) asked "What about other areas in the county? There are a lot of other areas (like the Newburgh corridor) where a sewer plant would help their economics explode." A New Windsor site was also slated for inclusion in the study. It would discharge its treated effluent into the Hudson River.

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