Freak accident of nature in Cochecton

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 9/15/20

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — It was a strange tale wastewater treatment plant operator Michael Walter told the Cochecton Town Board at its September 9 meeting. “What are the odds?” asked …

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Freak accident of nature in Cochecton

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — It was a strange tale wastewater treatment plant operator Michael Walter told the Cochecton Town Board at its September 9 meeting. “What are the odds?” asked Walter, as he went on to explain that a lightning strike of a three-phase power line connected to the plant had brought plant operation to a standstill.

“It happened about a month ago,” said Walter. “When I went in for a routine morning check, I found the control panel trickle burned out and the flow meter cooked.” Unsure of what had caused the damage, he contacted the company that insures the plant and was informed by the insurance adjuster that it was lightning that had fried the plant’s mechanical unit.

“Nowadays, they know exactly where lightning strikes,” said supervisor Gary Maas. “You can’t get away with telling your homeowners’ insurance company that lightning killed an appliance that finally quit working.”

Because the damage to the treatment plant is attributable to lightning, the cost of its repair is covered completely by the insurer, with no additional cost to sewer district users. That is not the case with the plant’s other problem: failure of one of its leach field beds. Another first-of-its-kind occurrence in the plant’s operating history since 1937, Koberlein Environmental Services has advised replacement of the bed’s filtration sand.

“You can’t use just any sand,” said Walter. “It has to be a special large, round grain sand that allows for better filtration. And the nearest source of that sand is Oneonta. It will have to be trucked in,” said Walter, with a sigh. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

In other business, the board has begun 2021 annual budget preparation. Instead of adjourning the meeting, it was recessed to Monday, September 21 at 6:30 p.m. for a budget workshop. Maas had two comments about the upcoming year’s fiscal prospects. “Our tax cap this year is relatively low at 1.56 percent. But the total assessed value of real property is at the highest point in recent history, up 3.4 percent, fueled by high land sale prices and high land sales volume.”

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