Today, Fingerlakes1.com reported that an estimated 5,000 gallons of raw sewage were accidentally dumped into Marsh Creek beginning at 6am this morning. According to this morning’s DEC alert, an emergency crew was on the scene, and said that it was unknown whether public areas were impacted. The cause was a pump station discharge pipe failure at the City of Geneva’s Marsh Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Marsh Creek runs south through the heart of the 6th Ward after it passes the wastewater treatment plant. The appproximately half-mile stretch runs through residential neighborhoods before passing along the border of Gulvin Park and then emptying into Seneca Lake.
In 2008, the Finger Lakes Times reported on the City of Geneva’s completion of nearly $15 million dollars in upgrades to the March Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (including an additional treatment facility near Gulvin Park). And taxpayers are still footing the bill:
“To pay for the upgrades, the city applied for and received a $13.6 million, 30-year, no-interest loan from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp.”
Most residents wouldn’t expect to have this kind of spill only 9 years after a multi-million dollar upgrade at the plant.
Hopefully, the people who live along Marsh Creek will stay away from the water and won’t suffer any health effects. The ecosystems of Seneca Lake and Marsh Creek will certainly take one on the chin. The city will (ostensibly) investigate the failure and take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again.
Gulvin Park, which is bordered by Marsh Creek and was recently renovated, is one of the crown jewels of the city parks system. Not only does it have a great baseball field, but probably also the top outdoor public basketball court in the city. But most importantly, community members take pride in and ownership of the shared space, and Gulvin has become one of the most-utilized parks in the city after years of neglect. It is a beautiful part of the Geneva community. And today, there was raw sewage floating by while children played there.
This sewage spill is a visceral reminder that the people and families of Ward 6 live in the shadow of potential environmental disaster each day. Guardian Industries, Zoto’s and the wastewater treatment plant could all potentially cause immediate concerns for the health of Ward 6 residents in the event of another accidental discharge of poison into the community. But next time, it may be more than “just” raw sewage.