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July 21, 2013

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There will be more about that next week, when I discuss some of the things that happened with last month’s incredible downpour that overwhelmed our system.

As the years continued to go by, the practice of some industries to discharge directly into the creek continued until as late as the 1960s. With the emergence of the environmental conservation movement of the 60s and the call for accountability for the care of nature, the Clean Water Act of 1972 was passed by congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. This was the first national call for the pro-active care of all the waterways in the United States.

With this law came federal monies for municipalities like Lockport to enlarge and acquire the latest treatment technologies for a more stringent cleaning of our waste waters. Also empowered by this law were the agencies such as the DEC and EPA and Health Dept. to regulate, govern and oversee for the proper treatment of waste water and to hold those responsible for treatment accountable.

Since the Clean Water Act of 1972, regulations and requirements issued by the regulatory agencies have become more and more stringent over the years. It can be a challenge for treatment plants to keep up with the new regulations when dealing with an older plant and sewer system.

The ideal thing for the city of Lockport and many other municipalities with old combined sewer systems is to be able to separate the sewer system into a sanitary system and storm system so that they are no longer treated in the same manner. To separate the two at one time is not practical or could the tax payers of the city be able to shoulder such a burden. 

In recent years, there is an ongoing effort to close all of the CSOs within the old sewer system. Of the original 32 CSOs, only 12 are still in existence and of the 12 only three are seen to sometimes activate during extreme high storm flow, the other nine will be in the process of being closed in the near future. Money is the key to any changes that have, and will be made in the treatment of wastewater over the coming years. Balancing what can be done with what we have is the solution and resolve.

Doug Sibolski is superintendent and chief operator of th City of Lockport's wastewater treatment plant.

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