DEC Considers Batavia’s Request to Withdraw Water Despite Local Government Opposition | Featured Story


The City of Batavia, City of Batavia, and Genesee County oppose approval of the application by Seneca Power Partners, LLC, whose address is listed at 163 Cedar St.

“DEC subjects all proposed permits to a full review to protect public health and the environment,” said Andrea Pedrick of DEC’s Region 8 Office of Communications Services. The DEC received the request on November 15.

“In the application, the facility indicates that it plans to use the well as its primary source of boiler make-up and cooling water,” the DEC said. “Applications for permits to take water must meet all requirements imposed by Part 601.10 of Section 6 NYCRR (New York Codes, Rules and Regulations), in order to protect public health and the environment.”

The DEC said the public comment period on the bid ended Thursday and it will assess the comments received, including the letters, and determine next steps.

On June 10, the DEC issued a Notice of Full Application on Seneca Power’s proposal. In the notice, it said it had tentatively decided to issue a new permit for the withdrawal of 715,600 gpd of water from a new D well on the Seneca Power property which is part of the largest source of wellfield near Tonawanda Creek in the town of Batavia,

“The total volume of water withdrawn by both the city of Batavia and the Batavia power plant should remain the same as before this new withdrawal, since well D draws water from the same aquifer as the city” , the DEC said in the notice. “The reason for this application is to reduce costs for both the power plant and the city by decreasing the water consumption of the public system and the cost of water treatment by the city, respectively.”

The notice indicates that according to the national environmental quality review (SEQR), the project will not have a significant impact on the environment.

In a letter Wednesday to Guillermo R. Saar, DEC Environmental Permitting Division, Region 8 Headquarters in Avon, city, town and county leaders said they oppose the request and were looking to help Seneca Power Partners find another way to access untreated water for its operations.

In the letter, the municipalities stated that the aquifer directly feeds the Batavia wastewater treatment plant as a major source of drinking water.

“Any excess extraction of water from the aquifer will force the Batavia water treatment plant to rely more on the stream (Tonawanda), which, in turn, will increase the cost of water treatment municipal and will reduce sustainability,” reads the jointly written letter. . “The requested amount, 715,600 GPD (gallons per day), represents 75 times more water use than the current average of 9,513 GPD. This will increase the capacity of the aquifer to supply the Batavia wastewater treatment plant. »

The letter said that on June 17, 2021, Genesee County issued a water conservation advisory to county residents.

“The water level in the aquifer that feeds the city of Batavia’s wastewater treatment plant is approaching historic lows. The deeper the water is below ground level, the more inefficient well pumps are,” it reads. “On July 1, 2022, the county again issued a news release calling for voluntary water restrictions from Genesee County residents, making the third consecutive year of voluntary water restrictions in Genesee County. Genesis.”

County Executive Matt Landers said Thursday it was difficult to estimate the figure for how much water the county saved by asking the public to conserve water starting July 1.

“Historically, our County Highways Superintendent, Tim Hens, who oversees the county’s water system, estimates that voluntary conservation efforts can save up to 300,000 gallons a day,” Landers said. “The request for water conservation is still in force. While it is important for residents to be aware of water wastage at all times, voluntary water restrictions take place during the hotter, drier summer months. The county’s water supply is adequate for the vast majority of days of the year, it is when we have very hot and dry periods that the demands on the system approach or exceed the supply.

“The concern raised in the letter sent to DEC speaks for itself,” Landers said. “The county is asking residents to conserve water on the hottest, driest days to ensure an adequate supply of water to meet overall community needs. Having an additional withdrawal from the aquifer does not help our conservation efforts.

If DEC grants Seneca Power Partners’ request, the county, town and city are weighing their options, Landers said.

“The county hopes that the DEC will rule favorably for the county and deny Seneca Power’s request for water withdrawal. If we are unsuccessful, we will explore additional options available to us,” he said.

Local officials said that while Seneca Power Partners claims to operate in a socially responsible manner, its past activities indicate otherwise. On September 17, 2020 and December 8, 2021, a notice of termination of water service was served on Seneca Power Partners for non-payment of its water bills.

“Additionally, although Seneca Power Partners touts social responsibility in the application, the company is currently facing seizure of its plant and pipeline due to non-payment of property taxes since 2017. As of June 15, 2022, Seneca Power Partners owes the City of Batavia $1,528,402.32 in back taxes,” the executives said in the letter.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski said Thursday she had no further comment beyond what was in Wednesday’s letter. The Daily News attempted to contact Seneca Power executives on Thursday, but they did not respond.

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