Owasco Lake 10.JPG

The pump house at the end of the peer at Emerson Park on Owasco Lake.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen

The city of Auburn discharged partially treated sewage into Northbook Creek at John Walsh Boulevard Thursday around 6 a.m. and it's expected to continue, according to a NY-Alert report.

Seth Jensen, director of municipal utilities for the city, said heavy rains caused the sewer system to max out, but the discharge occurred within the city's operating permit. He notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and according to the NY-Alert, about 594,000 gallons of sewage, partially treated without disinfection, were released. It is unknown whether public areas were impacted.

"Storm events happen," Jensen said. "Last night was a lot more than what was predicted."

Jensen said he had expected the city to get about 1/4 inch of rain. Instead, it got about 1 1/4 inches. The storms, too, have affected Owasco Lake's levels, making it about 1 1/4 feet higher than normal.

Whether people are upstream or downstream, Jensen said residents may seem some flooding. He's working with the Owasco Watershed Lake Association to keep residents up to date.

The city is incrementally increasing its flow in the Owasco River, Jensen said, but it is more constrained by what flow it can implement due to an environmental project in the river on McMaster Street. Jensen said he hopes by the end of Thursday that the city will have its full range of flow control. Meanwhile the hydro electric facilities on North Division Street and and Mill Street are handling the flow and levels. 

"We've been working collectively with folks in the river to keep everything safe," Jensen said. "We're just dealing with Mother Nature and the constraints of the projects that are in the river. We do our best."

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.


County Government Reporter