The Ballston Town Board will decide next month whether to push forward with plans for public sewers around Ballston Lake.
The board is considering a $9.5 million sewer system for Buell Heights and homes around the lake, as part of an effort to reduce phosphorous and coliform bacteria runoff into the lake from failing septic systems.
Even if the board approves the plan at a September meeting, construction is still years away.
“What we’d like to do is begin to move the process forward,” said town Councilman William Goslin, chairman of the town’s Clean Waters Committee.
The committee has recommended the sewer system be established to improve the lake’s water quality, but that can’t happen until the Town Board approves the recommendations and agrees to provide initial funding. The board in July accepted the recommendations, but has yet to follow through, as members wait to hear public reaction.
Goslin said the Town Board will take up the matter at its Sept. 11 meeting and has made no final commitment.
“It’s a good conversation to have, however it turns out,” Goslin said.
Under the proposal put together by Delaware Engineering of Albany, sewers would be installed in Buell Heights and around the lake, channeling sewage north to an established pumping station in a residential development on Lake Road. From there, it would flow into the Saratoga County Sewer District collection system.
The average cost for users, including debt service and operating charges, would be about $753 per dwelling unit per year, according to Delaware Engineer’s estimates. The equivalent of about 800 homes would be served.
If the town decides to proceed, the earliest construction could start would be the spring of 2016, Town Attorney James Walsh told about 40 Ballston residents at a meeting on the plans Monday.
Before construction, he said, the town would need to hire engineering and legal consultants, prepare more detailed plans, establish a sewer district, conduct an environmental review and obtain all needed permits.
It would also need to work out an agreement with Clifton Park, which has a portion of the lake frontage off Eastline Drive.
The sewer project’s goal would be to address deteriorating water quality in Ballston Lake. The Ballston Lake Improvement Association has been collecting water quality data for 24 years, showing a trend since 2000 of higher phosphorous and coliform levels.
“It’s indisputable that there’s water quality degradation here,” said Bob Duncan of the lake association.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation declared the lake an “impaired” water body.
One resident who is an engineer, Carl Thurnau, said a sewer system won’t address the phosphorous coming into the lake from stormwater runoff, typically from agricultural and lawn fertilizers.
“I believe this is premature, to put in a sewer system that will not address the problem of phosphorous,” Thurnau said.
Previous efforts to bring sewers to the town of Ballston, going back more than 40 years, have foundered because of the cost and other issues.
Doing a larger project, bringing sewer service to Burnt Hills and the Route 50 corridor, could cost as much as $50 million, according to estimates prepared by Delaware Engineering.
That isn’t currently under consideration.