Watertown man takes city to task over 30 years of sewer problems

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A Watertown resident provided city council a history lesson Monday night, taking them through what he says are 30 years of broken promises - promises to fix sewer problems in his neighborhood and keep it from backing up into homes.

Greg Maneeley stood in front of council Monday night and went through 30 years of information.

“I’ve got all of the letters here if you’d like copies - 30 years the city has acknowledged there’s been problems,” he said.

The problems are on Richards Drive.

At the meeting, Mayor Jeff Smith told Maneeley his history is spot on. But over the years, other issues for the city have come up.

“It comes down to dollars and cents and I think when you’re going out and spending all of this extra money on pools and golf courses, I think you should focus on your primary objective,” said Smith.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Pat Keenan says the problems on Richards Drive are linked to leaks in the city’s aging sewage system which allow groundwater to make its way into pipes.

“Whatever we can do to eliminate some of that extraneous flow that is getting into that main trunk line. That will alleviate some of the pressure on those side streets as well,” he said.

Keenan tells us that work has been done over the past 30 years and they have improved things but the city has yet to find a permanent solution.

After sewage discharge was discovered in a grassland west of the city last month, the DEC mandated Watertown to address the overflow issue. As of April, a plan has been submitted.

“We discussed the potential of creating a program where we can put in backflow preventers through some of these impacted parcels.”>

Keenan said $3 million have been allocated in this year’s budget that will go towards tackling sewage discharge.