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Jerusalem looks for contamination source

PENN YAN—Contamination in a section of Keuka Lake has presented a puzzle for some town of Jerusalem property owners, particularly to West Lake Road property owner Bonnie Curbeau. In 2009 she noticed seepage from a bank near a house she owned after the structure was damaged in a mudslide. The seepage was more than would have been expected and tests showed the presence of E-coli and Coliform.
Curbeau contacted an attorney and the town to find a solution. It was thought that the town sewer system could be related to the problem because there are no septic systems in the area. Homes in the area are connected to the town’s sewer system. Curbeau brought her concerns to the town board during their July meeting.
Engineer for the town Wayne Ackart spoke about the issue last week, commenting, “We’ve been working all week and have done lots of excavation along the sewer line. There was no evidence of leakage. Connections were checked as well and the water main will be checked the week of August 9.” He said there are no sewers in lots of places where this type of seepage occurs, adding, “Wherever there is construction on steep hillsides, water often shows up.” Ackart said nothing has been found yet and the town is waiting for lab results, calling the project, “A work in progress.”
Ackart said the town is developing some protocol regarding tests that would be used using the new Environmental Protection Agency Protocol 82-70. He said one problem is that there are a lot of bacteria around all the time. The new test is very precise and can tell when the material being tested is partially human sewage. The test can identify several common drugs and caffeine as well.
Curbeau said earlier tests had shown high levels of E-coli and Coliform in the lake water. Both are bacteria that have the potential to cause illness. Keuka Lake Association board member Bill Laffin spoke about the quality of the water in the lake, noting the group has a very organized water quality testing program with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County. He said, “To the best of my knowledge we have not seen elevations in contaminants. They usually test the natural runoff areas. This issue is a concern.”
Contacted Aug. 9, Curbeau said, “The town is working hard to find a solution. This spring neighbors noticed elevated seepage. The town dug all last week. I appreciate the work the town is doing on it. I hope they find something that can be fixed.”



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