Press-Republican

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July 22, 2012

A chance to help our lake

(Continued)

The plant has also exceeded its design life. It is time for a new plant and an opportunity for a revitalized downtown core. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a city beach in the heart of the city, or a lake walk where a sewage treatment plant once stood?

And doesn’t the City and Town of Plattsburgh deserve a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant that is designed to meet current standards now enjoyed in other communities, and can contribute to cleaning up our lake? Perhaps this is something we can work on together, city and town, in the best interest of all residents now and in the future.

Modern plants can be designed to work symbiotically with wetlands. A primary settling pond can remove sludge and debris, as does our existing plant downtown. A wetlands can then be used to provide secondary treatment that can break down the organic waste in sewage, followed by tertiary treatment to remove some chemicals like phosphorous that destabilize our lake’s chemistry and disrupt its vegetation.

There are wetlands near Georgia Pacific or adjacent to Scomotion Creek that would be ideal for such a modern sewage treatment plant. The wetlands could be revitalized as the lake is rehabilitated. And, the downtown core can be transformed from an area where we keep people away from the lake to one where we celebrate the lake.

I would hardly advocate for our region to garner the wonderful benefits of a revitalized downtown lakeside just because someone else is picking up the lion’s share of the cost. I believe the economics of a $30 million investment in our downtown is sound on its own. The dramatically improved lakeshore will be more valuable to the city and to the residents with adjoining properties. The lake ecosystem is valuable to us all, and the elimination of our phosphorous and nitrogen discharges and our occasional effluent overflows will help prevent nasty noxious weed growth and the cyanobacteria blue-green algae blooms that have become increasingly problematic for our lake. Our humans, our fish, and even our fishing tournaments will appreciate the clearer water, and we won’t have to suffer the embarrassment and high economic costs associated with a beach that has to be closed on occasion for health reasons.

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