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Pamelia officials discover litany of problems with sewer infrastructure at Deerfield Subdivision


Sewer lines connecting to single-family houses at the new Deerfield subdivision off Route 37 have been improperly installed, according to Pamelia town officials, who told the developer Monday night that they won’t allow more families to move in until the infrastructure is fixed

Supervisor Lawrence C. Longway, who outlined the problems during a Town Council meeting, contended that most of the sewer infrastructure installed at the site will have to be dug up and installed again. Lateral and main sewer lines contain numerous dips of more than 1 inch that will cause blockages, he said.

He also said there are probably multiple leaks in the sewer main that connects to the pump station at the west end of the site, allowing rainwater to flow into the system.

Developer Beacon Asset Managers, Jacksonville, Fla., plans to build 29 single-family houses and 39 duplexes on the 43-acre piece of land. Twelve houses have been completed, and three military families have moved in.

General contractor Cunningham Excavation, Cazenovia, was responsible for installing the faulty sewer lines, said Robert L. Sipple Jr., managing partner for Beacon Asset Managers, who attended the meeting. Mr. Sipple recently sent a letter to the town saying that sewer lines would be fixed in 30 days, although Mr. Longway’s report of more extensive problems in the system suggests that fixing them could take much longer.

First, the Town Council wants the developer to complete its own engineering study of the sewer lines. Its engineer is Aubertine & Currier Architects, Watertown.

The town already has demonstrated, though, that sewer lines are defective. Mr. Longway said he expressed several concerns about the sewer lines during the winter but was ignored by engineers. The town then hired in April an engineer from Gleason Septic Service, Black River, to conduct a study of the sewer lines using underground video cameras that fit into the piping.

“We only checked three (of the 29) laterals and every one of them is screwed up,” Mr. Longway said. “All of them have dips, and you’re not supposed to have any. And if the only three we checked have problems, I’m willing to gamble more of them do, too.”

Aubertine & Currier also has tested the sewer lines using video cameras, Mr. Sipple said, but the results have to be compiled.

“It’s in our best interest to get these issues fixed, because we’ve put a lot of money into the ground already,” he said.

Along with dips found in multiple lines, Mr. Longway said, there may be a problem with groundwater getting into the main sewer line, based on a check of water flow beneath various manhole covers. The water flow under a manhole near the three occupied houses at the northern end of the site is slow, he said. But the water flow near the pump station to the west — where no houses are built — is inexplicably fast. The water there is also clear, which suggests that rainwater is flowing in through leaks in the sewer line.

“You don’t have to have (an engineering degree) to understand there is a problem,” he said.

To make sure the infrastructure is installed correctly, the Town Council agreed the developer will have to submit standards by which the replaced lines are installed. After construction, the developer will have to have lines inspected and approved by the town. The town ultimately will be responsible for maintaining infrastructure at the site.

“We can’t afford to keep taking these problems on when we’re not making any money,” Mr. Longway said.

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