Residents in the village of Westfield are being warned of a sanitary sewer overflow in a waterway. A village pump station on Oak Street is overflowing into Chautauqua Creek which runs through the village.
The sanitary sewer pump station, serving the western side of the village, is operating normally at full capacity. While the pumps are functioning properly, they cannot pump the amount of flow that is going into the station, according to Chief Operator of the Wastewater Pollution Control Facility Andrew Thompson. This is not the first time the pump has seen overflow - it has been happening periodically since the pump has been installed.
A main pipe runs under the creek, which Thompson believes might be contributing to the overflow. There are two manholes upstream from the overflow site, one is functioning properly and another, past where the pipe crosses the creek, is full. Typically the thaw is earlier in the year which is a factor as to why the overflow is more noticeable, especially by fishermen.
Photos by Samantha McDonnell
Signs are posted at the Oak Street entrance of Chautauqua Creek notifying residents of a sewer overflow about 15 feet from the water. The health department has yet to stop all activities in the creek, but is aware of the situation.
"From time to time we have overflows and typically this time of year is worse than usual because of the snow melt. It's not unique to Westfield to have (this issue)," said Thompson. "What we think is going on in addition to the high flows from snow melt and rainfall, we think there is an issue with that pipe somewhere because it seems to be taking on quite a bit of water from the creek."
The village has alerted the County Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation as required. The health department is requiring Thompson to monitor dissolved oxygen levels from two spots in the creek near the overflow site, both of which have had normal results with no noticeable impact on water quality.
Notices have been posted near the pump alerting residents of the overflow. Thompson said he has been asked if the creek is safe to go fishing, adding he cannot make that determination; only the county health department can make that determination. No such determination has been made yet, Thompson said.
The village is working to remedy the overflow as soon as possible. The village is currently in a construction project led by the village's department of public works to fix the problem. The project will replace the pipe under the creek and will replace the current pump with two new ones.
"The village has taken some steps to try to eliminate that inflow and infiltration. Obviously that isn't enough. That's why we have gone to the extent of putting in some new pumps that will be able to handle the amount of flow," Thompson said.