Town To Bond $210k for Tank Cleaning at Scavenger Plant

In a 4-to-1 vote on Thursday night, the board approves money for state-mandated clean-up; Budget officer says interest rate will be minimal.

The Town of East Hampton will borrow $210,000 for tank cleaning at the Scavenger Waste Plant, following a 4-to-1 vote approving the bond at a meeting on Thursday night.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overy sponsored the resolution to finance the improvements at the wastewater plant, which the Department of Environmental Conservation ordered. Councilmen Peter Van Scoyoc Supervisor and Dominic Stanzione and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson supported the resolution for the one-time cleaning.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted against it.

Two-thirds of the board had to approve the resolution in order for it to pass.

Wilkinson said that while he remains steadfast that he could have negotiated a deal to privatize the plant that was satisfactory to the town last winter, he voted in favor of putting the money into the plant because the cleaning simply has to get done. There was no alternative, he said — the state mandated the cleaning.

The Scavenger Waste Plant has been a divisive issue for the board since early 2012. Wilkinson hoped to privatize the plant after the first quarter in 2012, based on an unanimous vote of the board in December, before van Scoyoc and Overby took office. Negotiations ended with the potential lessee when the newly elected members of the board took office and Republican Councilman Dominick Stanzione changed his vote.

"We have a responsibility to respond to the DEC," Van Scoyoc said a meeting two weeks ago when Republican Committee secretary Carole Campolo, who had a career in municipal finance, that it would be "fiscal malfeasance" for the board to float a bond for such maintenance.

Overby has said the tanks are "full of drying septic bed sludge" that smells during the summer and drips down in the system. Blowers are therefore on continuously, running the town $8,000 to $9,000 a month in electricity. "We will be able to save at least that amount of the electric bill," she said.

Len Bernard, the town finance officer, said the bond will be stretched over five years and he estimates the town will end up paying about $45,000 a year including the interest. "I anticipate a very, very minimal interest rate," he said on Friday.

The bond, he said, was the best move under the circumstances. It takes the pressure off the tax levy cap the town needs to stay under in 2013 and in subsequent years, as well as avoids hitting tax payers with a $200,000 tax levy increase in 2013, he said.

The bond approval allows for the money to be advanced from the general fund to get the work done sooner than later, Bernard said. "We won't actually borrow the money until 2013 . . . the interest won't be due to the following year."

"The fact of the matter is because of denial of the former board's plans we're left in the position of cleaning the tanks regardless. Under the former proposal, the acquirer of the lease or sale, we would have negotiated an obligation to clean those tanks," Wilkinson said.

"This new board of Dominick Stanzione, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, obligated tax payers to pay for something that I still believe could have been negotiated," he said.

Because there was no funding for the plant included past the first quarter of the 2012 budget, Wilkinson projected a deficit of at least $700,000 by the end of the year, according to his tenative 2013 budget, which was made public on Monday.

Funding for the Scavenger Waste Plant accounts for $731,150, or 22.1 percent, of the overall increase in the tentative $69 million budget, a $3.3 million increase over last year.

Wilkinson's plan includes to return at least $500,000 to the Refuse and Recycling Fund. His proposal funds the plant as a transfer station for the first three months of 2013, "by which time a final decision on the matter will hopefully be made by the Town Board."

Privatization is not off the table, Overby has said. She said she felt the amount bid by the only vendor to respond was far too low.

ViralGrain October 05, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Can someone enlighten me on this. We do not have a sewer system do we? So I assume that the septic waste that the tanks are holding was delivered to the tanks via cesspool pump companies that I would assume had to pay money to drop their waste. So why wasn't the money collected managed correctly to pay for such maintenance like this, when obviously someone was aware that this would one-day have to be cleaned? Each department and sub department throughout the town should be self-sufficient and not run on the coat tails of other departments to provide funding for operations. Government personnel mismanage funds should be criminally liable for such incompetence since it would be hard to prove criminal intent otherwise.
tito October 05, 2012 at 04:04 PM
now i can save money on gas by not driving around/avoiding the smell from the plant on my way home.
J October 05, 2012 at 05:57 PM
ViralGrain, It is pretty simple why there wasn't money for the cleaning. In late 2011 the former town board (Wilkinson, Quigley, Stanzione, Hammerlee and Prince) voted unanimously to either sell or lease the waste plant in early 2012. So the 2012 budget (created and passed on a bi-partisan manner in late 2011) only called for funding it for three months in 2012 until the sale or lease could be completed. Then when it came time to actually sell it in early 2012 the two new board members (Overby and Van Scoyac) raised a stink (no pun intended) about the sale or lease and voted against completing the deal and Stanzione was somehow persuaded to change his vote. So the Town still owns it even though they didn't budget the money for it. That means the costs that were expected to be covered by the leasing company or new owner are stuck on the Town because of Overby, Van Scoyac and Stanzione refused to sell it when someone offered to buy it.
ViralGrain October 05, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I see. Thank you. But when was the last time the thing was cleaned and how often does it need to be serviced like this to remain in compliance with DEC regulation? The deal that was in the air and fell through sounds like it was only 2 years ago. What happened to the revenue that was generated from the plant in that time span and prior to the proposed deal that was to be set aside for the maintenance of the thing? Or was the money just pocketed in other area's with the hopes that it would be sold to some sucker who would have to pay for the burdon of having this addressed to bring it to DEC compliance? This thing could make money for the town or at least remain self sufficient while providing jobs. But instead it sounds like the attitude was to buy it, reap it for as much as possible for as long as you can and sell it just before it's ran it into the ground. But it didn't work out that way so now the tax payers have to bail out the ship. So whats going to be done different this time around so this town can start making money again and stop having to rely on bailouts weather through the feds or through loans? It stupid when we have the amount of resources we do to generate income for the town with out raising taxes and have to rely so heavily on outside support. All it takes is a little entrepreneurship with towns well being in mind.
lifelong amagansett resident October 06, 2012 at 02:43 PM
The money went to the operator for the last ten years who was just hired to run the plant and had no profit motive to maintain volume, thus the town paid a big nut every month and did not take in the revenue to cover it. That is why the plant was taxpayer subsidized for those 10 years and the many years the town operated it before. There was never a profit motive, which there would have been had the plant been sold last February. The question why those tanks were not maintained during the 10 years that the operator was paid is a good one. The cleaning should have happened in about 2004 and 2008 (every four years), which would have resulted in tanks in far better shape when Wilkinson wanted to sell the plant and maybe would have persuaded the three holdouts on the board to do the right thing. Actually Stanzione wants the plant closed permanently now (a position he change since last November) - something he has yet to explain. In any case this facility has been a tax pit for the taxpayers of the town for 20 years and will continue to be as long as it is owned by the town - no doubt.
Deborah Klughers October 06, 2012 at 04:41 PM
In order to become a sustainable community we should manage our own wastewater. In order to make a profit at the scavenger waste facility, it would have to process more waste, which means bringing in waste from outside of East Hampton. One of the reasons we are in this dilemma is because of DEC violations at the plant. We had over 100 violations, including excess discharges of nitrogen, mercury & toluene. We know where the nitrogen came from, but how did mercury, a toxic substance used primarily for the manufacture of industrial chemicals & for electrical & electronic applications, and also in high temperature thermometers & in fluorescent lamps (as a gas) get into the scav waste site? How about toluene? This manufactured hydrocarbon is used as a general solvent, an octane booster in gasoline fuels, a components in jet fuel blends, a coolant & in the process of removing cocaine from coca leaves. How did this end up in the wastewater that was processed at the plant? These substances were found from random grab samples. Were there other potential violations that were not identified? In case people don’t know, all this effluent from the facility is pumped into our groundwater. A for profit enterprise could bring in whatever from wherever & our public water supply could suffer at the hands of a for profit venture. Water is priceless. We owe it to the future to do the right thing, not the most profitable thing. Profit for a private enterprise or clean water for the public?
Cannot Believe This October 06, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Not true about taking in waste from out of town. As the State clamps down on surface water protection, runoff, waste water maintenance, and the like , people who now neglect their septic systems and let flow in and out with the tides, or allow them to leach into water bodies, will require more regular pumping. Many people will not be able to afford a $10,000 to $15,000 new state of the art septic systems. In lieu of that they will be forced to have their systems pumped more often. That will create more volume, which I am sure has not been lost on the astute people at Clear-Flo, who actually own homes in Montauk where inefficient systems are already leaching into south Lake Montauk according to the CCOM. Local volume will be increasing due to State regulation and enforcement. One last note to Ms. Klughers - currently the effluent is not "pumped into the ground". The effluent is treated, then the liquids leach into the ground. To say it is pumped into the ground is deceiving and is contradictory to what the plant is called - a waste water treatment facility - treatment being the key word. If we are going to have a discussion here let's at least be factual.
Deborah Klughers October 06, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Yes of course- how silly of me to leave out the fact that wastewater at the Scavenger Waste Treatment Facility is (was) treated with hundreds of gallons of chemicals each month, such as aluminum sulfate, methanol, & sodium hydroxide &THEN the effluent leaches into the groundwater. I've left out some biological processes & chemical interactions that occur as well-not to be deceitful,but for brevity. I think most people know the wastewater is “treated“, but thanks for pointing that out (you too, left out the biological & chemical interactions (albeit mostly chemical), but I’ve clarified. Your quote, “As the State clamps down on surface water protection, runoff, waste water maintenance”, is exactly when in regard to home septic systems and wastewater maintenance? The Peconic Baykeeper has filed suit against the state in an attempt to ‘entice’ them to do something to remedy some of the issues/problems/solutions(?) you raised in regard to wastewater. Just last month, the Town of Southampton unanimously approved a Water Quality Protection Fund for the Town of Southampton. Prior to that, they drafted legislation on home wastewater systems, & in 2005 they wrote a water conservation plan. I do believe they are well ahead of any state mandates that may or may not be under discussion on a state level. Where are we on these discussions in East Hampton? How long do we wait for the State to tell us what to do? And do we really want to be bound ($) to state mandates?
Deborah Klughers October 06, 2012 at 06:30 PM
To 'Cannot Believe This', et.al, "In order to make a profit at the scavenger waste facility, it would have to process more waste". This is a fact that I have provided which can be substantiated. 'Cannot Believe This' assumes "Local volume will be increasing due to State regulation and enforcement." What facts do you have to support that state regulation and enforcement of our home wastewater systems is forthcoming? The Peconic Baykeeper just submitted a petition ( I apologize and correct myself in the above post- I wrote he 'filed suit'. He did not file a suit, but rather submitted a petition) to the DEC asking them to act on current Federal Laws in regard to wastewater. The State answers “we don’t have the empirical evidence to show what impacts on-site septic systems have on nitrogen levels in the Peconic Bay." So, do you assume, or do have facts to support that the State is planning to act on something for which they do not have any “empirical evidence” on? I cannot believe I am answering this… but the public should not be fed assumptions by someone who will not reveal their identity, and yet wants to have a factual discussion.
Cannot Believe This October 07, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Ms. Kluughers - all of the above just makes the argument to close the facility. No worries then about aluminum sulfate, methanol, sodium hydroxide and the alleged concentrated introduction of nitrates into the ground. Also, as you point out, if Southampton is well ahead of any one else, and since they do not have a waste treatment plant of any kind, then again you just make even more of a case to close the East Hampton facility in exchange for studies, plans, inane funds to do what?, and other non tangible actions. Nice theory - no impact.
Deborah Klughers October 07, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I never advocated “to close the East Hampton facility in exchange for studies, plans, inane funds and other non-tangible actions." Is that what you want? I said "In order to become a sustainable community we should manage our own wastewater." You espouse theories,not facts. Theories are good,but are only credible with evidence to support them.Theories are open to disproof- where they would, of course be invalid. Theories can also be countered with contradictory evidence where they would be indeterminate, but not false. The DEC quote "we don’t have the empirical evidence to show what impacts on-site septic systems have on nitrogen levels" kind of contradicts your theory.....
Deborah Klughers October 07, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Your theory,“not true about taking in waste from out of town” because the State will come up with some plans that will "force people to have their systems pumped more often-that will create more volume" & "local volume will be increasing due to State regulation & enforcement" is your theory. Not impossible, nor improbable, but indeterminate at best. Your theory might be proven in 1,5,10,20,or 100 years… The State could also say that they will never, ever do what you theorize, which would invalidate it completely. In this case, your theory that the State will take some action in the foreseeable future which will cause the local volume of septage to increase, which in turn will not necessitate bringing in septage from outside of East Hampton, so that a for-profit entity managing the facility can make a profit (with only local wastewater), does not justify keeping the scavenger waste treatment facility operating- or provide an argument to close it. This is not the only issue- there is so much more to it than this one issue. You also state “they (Southampton) do not have a waste treatment plant of any kind”. FYI: Southampton DOES have at least one wastewater treatment facility. I'll leave it to you to figure out where. Going forward, I’d like to discuss if and why we need a wastewater treatment plant and what kind… with just the facts, if possible. Do we 'need' it only because we had it built for us with mostly federal dollars decades ago?
ViralGrain October 07, 2012 at 05:42 AM
O.K. this is what happens in every discussion on this sight. Every one starts bickering. Instead of focusing on opinionated details why can't we keep the over all objective on the table. The plant is in trouble. Can it be managed to create a degree of self sufficiency and possibly turn a profit to start paying back its opening costs and if so how? Pun intended but we don't have to take crap from anyone. This is East Hampton and if the volume of wast thats to be processed through the plant is only local waste, a accurate figure should be calculated on how much it costs to process it from one and of the spectrum to the other and a realistic fee should be charged to dump it to get the plant on track. Contract with the sherifs dept and have the inmates do the cleaning. If someone is willing to drop a good chunk of change to buy the facility then there must be a reason why. I agree privatizing it would open the door for out side sewage to be dropped. But if a private company sees potential why can't the town work it the same. Call some other sewer treatment plants and hear what they have to say. Are all these plants money pits? I doubt it or otherwise no private firms would even consider the venture of ever buying one. If the town can hold on to it and not sell out then maybe it would not be very profitable since it would be only a local volume, but at least it could be self sufficient and gard us from outside waste being treated and dumped here.
ViralGrain October 07, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Regulated in a way to ensure trucks are only dumping from town residents. Please stop bickering. We obviously care and are the few who realize the importance of the subject so lets keep our arrows in the same direction and not towards one another.
Deborah Klughers October 07, 2012 at 04:26 PM
The main difference between the EH plant and almost all others is that the 'treated' effluent is discharged into our groundwater- that we drink. I'm not positive- but I'm pretty sure that East Hampton and Brookhaven National Laboratory are the only 2 places in New York where 'treated' wastewater is discharged into groundwater- that people drink. BNL also discharges 'treated' wastewater into the headwaters of the Peconic River....
ViralGrain October 07, 2012 at 05:11 PM
The idea of drinking recycled water is gross, but if its proven safe then I think its better then doing nothing to treat contaminated water. If we can structure a profitable model to show that it is not only necessary for the environment have plats like this but to also have these plants running in a economic self sufficient way I think much good can come from such a applied plan. Easier said then done. But luckily we have a community that is filled with professionals of the sciences and not just actors who if they would step up to the plate, can examine this and come up with a plan to make it work in a way that other communities will follow. To just ignore something like this and do nothing about would be uncivilized.
Deborah Klughers October 07, 2012 at 06:48 PM
All of the water on Earth is 'recycled'. The water we have today is billions of years old & the Earth repeatedly cycles this antique resource over and over. Only about 3% of all water on Earth is fresh & of that almost 70% is locked in glaciers. Less than 1% of usable freshwater is readily accessible to humanity. This means that only about 0.007% of all water on Earth is available for human consumption. How we manage this resource is very important. There is a big difference between water reclamation for use in irrigation, industry, recharge of groundwater to halt saltwater intrusion & recycling wastewater for human consumption. The latter must have extensive purification, then is added to ground or surface water (like a reservoir or river) for further cleansing, then sent for more treatment before deemed safe to drink. We also have ‘chemicals of emerging concern’ (personal care & pharmaceutical products to name a few ) & the long term effect on humans to think about. Recycling wastewater into drinking water is used in a few countries, like Singapore, Australia & Namibia, & also in parts of California, Virginia & New Mexico, and is thought to be safe.
Cannot Believe This October 08, 2012 at 02:25 AM
If you're talking about that tiny facility in Sag Harbor that services main street businesses only, then you are really stretching to say somehow that makes Southampton far ahead of East Hampton. And the small operations at Southampton Hospital and Southampton Commons are also not what we are talking about. For that matter what about the oxidation ditch process used at Montauk Manor's facility? None of these small operations take on the demand of an entire town's waste with 20,000 septic systems. We are talking about totally different issue.
Deborah Klughers October 08, 2012 at 04:56 AM
FROM the post above from Cannot Believe This (I will call CBT) at 10:25 pm on Sunday, October 7, 2012 "If you're talking about that tiny facility in Sag Harbor that services main street businesses only, then you are really stretching to say somehow that makes Southampton far ahead of East Hampton. And the small operations at Southampton Hospital and Southampton Commons are also not what we are talking about. For that matter what about the oxidation ditch process used at Montauk Manor's facility? None of these small operations take on the demand of an entire town's waste with 20,000 septic systems. We are talking about totally different issue.” WOW- CBT has a comprehension and a truth avoidance problem. I never said because SH has SPT's that makes them far ahead of EH. I said because Southampton approved a Water Quality Protection Fund, drafted legislation on home wastewater systems & wrote a water conservation plan in 2005, they are well ahead of any state mandates that may or may not be under discussion. I did ask where EH is on these discussions. The differences between the plants mentioned by CBT and teh one is EH, is where they discharge effluent AND SIZE! Sag Harbor STP is not “tiny”, it can treat up to 250,000 gallons of sewage a day, coming from more homes than businesses. Southampton Hospital has a capacity of 105,000 gallons a day, and they are looking to increase! Where does CBT get his info- or better question-why does he make up such nonsense??
Deborah Klughers October 08, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Good news is that Sag Harbor is part of a test program that hopes to turn their raw sewage into potable water. The technology has been used by the US military for years. Maybe if it works we could use it in on a larger scale here in East Hampton. The water that comes from the treated sewage is drinkable! We could discharge it into our groundwater here in EH with no contaminants!! By the way, our plant does not, or did not “take on the demand of an entire town's waste with 20,000 septic systems” as CBT claims. Only about 2000-4,000 homes pump out every few years. Most others might pump out every 15-30 years, and some have never, ever used the facility and others never will. The plant was able to process 45,000 gallons of septage per day, yet averaged 14,000 gallons a day in 2010- much smaller than those mentioned above. I started commenting on this blog because I believe this is important, and the issues include clean drinking water- responsible wastewater management- fiduciary duties to the taxpayers & a moral responsibility to the future. CBT and other like him have some another agenda- that includes confusing the public and spreading misinformation. I’d enjoy a discussion on the issues, using facts and honest opinions- not lies. From CBT above, "If we are going to have a discussion here let's at least be factual." wow. I won’t be correcting CBT (or his other aliase) or others who spread misinformation any longer. Someone else can call them out….
Deborah Klughers October 08, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Cannot Believe This October 09, 2012 at 12:47 AM
When you are dealing with environmental elitism it is difficult to debate because elites tend to be strident, condescending and unrealistic. I am glad DK dismisses and berates everything I write because it just illustrates her elitist attitude. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Let me say the Sag Harbor facility is different than East Hampton's. Sag Harbor's facility is part of a sewer system that services about 200 users (commercial and private) - fact. The 250,000 volume is needed because everything goes down the drain and to the plant via pipe - fact. Even with a 250,000 permit the Sag facility is almost tapped out which is why they were unwilling to extend the service to the library extension. 200 users maxing out a 250,000 GPD system? Why, because it is different than East Hampton - fact. In East Hampton everything that comes in theoretically is already "processed" in an individual septic systems - fact. Liquid leaches at point - fact. The East Hampton plant WAS designed and built to service the entire Town -fact - ask the powers that be at the time. The facility was built to handle everything pumped from the septic systems in town which is why every lot (except underwater lots) in town are in the district - fact. When all haulers were bringing their loads to East Hampton there were lines outside the facility - fact - ask the people who worked there. I did not bring up other facilities. My argument is about East Hampton and its unique qualities.
Deborah Klughers October 09, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Finally CBT has provided some facts.And yes,I’ve dismissed every statement inaccurately attributed to me.FACT. Please read the 1st sentence of my 1st post, “we should manage our own wastewater.” Isn’t that the issue, managing OUR wastewater? Is processing (more) waste to allow a business to profit the issue (goal)? Or, since CBT dismisses the notion of bringing in outside waste for profit, could we sell or lease it to someone who will process ONLY EH waste? Or, is CBT privy to some impending mandate that will force people to use the facility? Even though it was built for all the community- we are not all using the facility. The other issue is water. Would you agree it is important to protect our drinking water? To do everything we can to defend it from harm? Would you agree that the Town should get the best deal, not the only deal offered, when selling or leasing a facility that is so important to this community & the future of the community? And yes CBT, you did bring up other ‘facilities' at 8:29 pm October 6, 2012, but I am not sure why. People can read you know. FYI: Septage waste is not “theoretically processed” @ our homes. It is highly concentrated in most cases & full of liquid in others. It depends, among other things, on the state of the system being pumped. Think about the failed system at the trailer park; the waste was full of water. Whereas a homeowner who does routine pumping, the septage will be mostly 'sludge' & is extremely concentrated.
Cannot Believe This October 10, 2012 at 02:06 AM
So much for not responding to my comments. A dilettante in every way possible.


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