Erie County to spend millions on sewer facility upgrades

Aug 25, 2017

With Erie County's sewage treatment facilities aging and sometimes overloading, the county is preparing for another round of improvements and renovations to the wastewater infrastructure.

Credit Buffalo Water Authority

County sewer districts cover much of Erie County, with some districts sending their waste to the Buffalo Sewer Authority and its plant on Unity Island. Others have their own treatment plants, some built a long time ago and showing wear.

Besides that, there are a lot of overflow valves. When the rain overloads capacity in part of the system, valves open allowing rain and wastewater to flow into some waterway.

Assistant Sanitary Engineer John Mallory spoke to a public hearing Thursday night in the County Legislature chamber. Mallory said there will be work in District Two serving the county's southwestern section.

"Improvements at the Big Sister treatment plant for $800,000," he said. "We're going to do pumping state improvements for $1.5 million at the Sweetland pump station and also collection improvements for $500,000."
 

Assistant Sanitary Engineer John Mallory speaks in Erie County Legislature Chambers.
Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

The county has to approve projects for the sewer districts and the fees to pay for them. While cost estimates are pretty solid, the effect on customer bills will depend on issues from interest rates to potential state or federal construction aid.

Erie County plans more work in District Three, which covers a large swath of the county from Lake Erie to the eastern county line. More than $10 million for sewer line and pumping station renovations and an extension of a treatment plant disposal line farther out into Lake Erie is planned.

"We're doing some pumping station improvements estimated to cost $4.5 million. The number one station on that list is Rogers Road. It needs some improvements first, and then what money we have left over from that we're going to use for other pumping station improvements," Mallory said. "And the third item is collection system improvements. There's $1 million for that and it's going to be for sanitary sewer."