State Wins Sewage Treatment Upgrades In Saratoga Springs

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against the City of Saratoga Springs that will improve water quality in Spring Run, a tributary of Lake Lonely and nearby wetlands.

"As a result of today's agreement, the City of Saratoga Springs will remedy long-neglected defects in its sewage system that led to the contamination of a local stream," said Attorney General Spitzer. "I am pleased that under this settlement a long-standing water pollution problem in Saratoga Springs will be addressed. Both the public health and environment will benefit. My office will continue to work with DEC Commissioner Crotty to monitor this situation and ensure that the problem is resolved."

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "Under this agreement, the state will work with the City of Saratoga Springs to prevent pollution into Spring Run and Lake Lonely, helping to ensure that water quality standards are met and these valuable resources are protected. This settlement addresses deficiencies in the existing sewage system, which will help to eliminate a major source of contamination to Spring Run and nearby wetlands."

For the past 20 years, sewage has been discharged from Saratoga's aging storm water collection system into Spring Run and nearby freshwater wetlands. The sewage discharges violated state water quality standards. Sampling of the water in Spring Run over the course of many years revealed that the stream frequently contained coliform bacteria and fecal matter far in excess of acceptable levels.

Eye witnesses reported seeing toilet paper and other sanitary products floating in Spring Run, illustrating the serious need to upgrade the city's storm water sewer system. Because of the age of the city's system, there is concern that its sewer lines may be connected to the storm water collection system. This allows untreated sewage to run directly into Spring Run.

In a court ordered agreement, signed today in State Supreme Court, the City of Saratoga Springs will:
  • Hire a professional engineer within 45 days to investigate the city's sanitary and storm sewers and within two years submit a report to DEC with plans and specifications for corrective action;
  • Begin construction of sewage system improvements within six months after DEC approves the city's plan. The improvements must be completed within two years;
  • Pay a penalty of $12,500 to the state;
  • Pay an additional penalty of $27,500 to the state if it violates the court order; and,
  • Spend $25,000 for a "household hazardous waste collection day" to take place in the summer or fall of 2003.

The agreement was signed today in Ballston Spa by State Supreme Court Judge Stephen Ferradino.

"I commend the Mayor and City Council of Saratoga Springs for responsibly addressing this problem," Spitzer said. "Working cooperatively with the state, the city has ensured that residents of Saratoga Springs and visitors to the city will benefit from an overall improvement in water quality."

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Robert Rosenthal. DEC staffers working on the case include Steve Brewer, Scott Crisafulli and Terry Crannell.