Option avoids lake discharge

Gwen Chamberlain

If  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials give their approval to a new plan, the Switzerland Inn’s septic system will no longer discharge effluent through a pipe into Keuka Lake.

Switzerland Inn owner Josh Trombley has been consulting with his engineer, Bill Grove of Naples, and a New Hampshire-based company, Presby, on a new design for a system that will disperse treated wastewater into the ground.

Plans to replace the failed septic system at the popular east side restaurant drew a rash of complaints from neighbors and lakefront property owners who opposed the continued practice of discharging fluid into the lake via a 40 ft. pipe.

Grove says the Presby option’s construction should allow the area to also be used for parking, which he says is critical given the space constraints of the Switzerland Inn.

“We have discussed the Presby option with the DEC and they are open to the idea. We still need to design the system and submit the plans to DEC for approval. If it is approved, the lake discharge would not be necessary,” he says.

Trombley says a representative from Presby was on site for most of the day June 25.

Grove says a state permit will still be required for any discharge over 1,000 gallons per day, even if the fluid is not discharged directly into the lake.

Grove adds, “We have designed many residential Presby systems in the area and many of those are on very tight lakefront lots. Presby has numerous installations across the country where their systems service restaurants with high flows and high waste strength, and many of those systems are installed under parking lots.”

The most recent problems with the restaurant’s septic system were first reported to local officials in July 2017, according to Colby Petersen of Yates Soil & Water Conservation District, which is the Keuka Lake watershed manager.

Although Petersen spoke with officials from DOH and DEC last July, and Trombley was notified of violations found by a DOH inspector last year, no other official action was taken on the situation until March 13, 2018, when the Town of Wayne Code Enforcement Officer issued an order to remedy violations due to a septic system failure.

New York State DEC officials issued a violation letter on March 21. That letter advised Trombley that all discharges from the system shall cease until the system has been repaired. He has agreed to pump the holding tanks regularly. Failure to prevent a discharge could cost Trombley $37,500 per day in fines.

Neighbors say they  want to see the business succeed, but it should be subjected to the same standards they must follow when it comes to maintaining a septic system near the lake, which is also the source of drinking water for thousands.