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If you exit the main drag (Route 394) as you head north and west from BOCES School in Ashville and head towards the lake, you will see construction equipment installing the service lines for the new extension to the West Lake Sewer System. You will also see lots of small, colored flags marking where current utility lines are or where new sewer lines will be buried.

A homeowner commented on the small size (2 inches diameter) of some of the side tubes.

“How can you move sewage through a pipe with such a small diameter?” he asked.

The quick answer is that because these sewer plugs are pressurized, they can move a lot of sewage through a fairly small pipe. The thick-walled plastic pipe used allows the pressure to be increased or decreased when a greater or lesser flow rate is required to keep the sewage moving. The pressure is created by mill pumps that essentially grind the wastewater, mix it with the other wastewater, and then pump the residue to the larger main line along Route 394.

Since electricity is required to operate the pumps, you can also see that an additional electrical conduit pipe with a small diameter is being laid in the trench next to the sewer pipe itself. As a rule, every house has its own sewage grinder pump. It is up to the sewer system to pay for and maintain these pumps once the system is put into operation. The district follows a biennial schedule for inspecting the pumps and replacing them if necessary.

Homeowners hooked up to this new system can rest assured that it will work as similar pressurized pipes have been running across the lake since the 1980s. In other words, the sewer system already has a lot of experience in the operation and maintenance of mill pumps and sewer pressure pipes.

The 2 ”diameter side lines are sometimes supplemented by a 3” line in between, which is then joined to the main 10 ”diameter line that runs along Rt. 394. The pressure and speed in the lines also help to hold them “washed out” so that no wastewater accumulates in the pipeline itself.

The contractor’s current work is now focused on the coastal properties stretching north from Niets Crest to Hadley Bay. This is done so that the bank construction and surface renovation in this area can be completed before next summer. Work on the main line along Route 394 is not expected to begin until after Memorial Day 2022.

There is a special Facebook page sponsored by the district for affected property owners. You can also visit the South / Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District website. For those of you (like me) who don’t have Facebook – stay in touch with this column. I will try to keep you updated on a regular basis about this extremely important piece of infrastructure that is being built to help preserve our beautiful Lake Chautauqua!

Rolland Kidder is a resident of Stow.

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