New York Rural Water : News

January 30, 2015

NYRWA Founder’s Scholarship Application Deadline Quickly Approaching

Category: Achievements, Events, Funding, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 11:45 AM

To all NYRWA Members – Scholarship applications are due February 12, 2015.  If your child wishes to participate, go under Resources on the toolbar here on our website, then Downloads, you will find the application  on the right side.  Please print and have them submit before the deadline.  Be sure to include their transcripts.  This is open to all children in your water/wastewater district.  If you could provide this application to your local high school guidance office, they could copy and distribute it to their students.  Be sure to fill in the system member, which would be “the village of……” or town, city of.

As you know, this is a member benefit.  Our one time grant of $500 will be made to one student from each region (Capital, Northeast Central, Finger Lakes, Buffalo and White Plains Region) in New York State to help defray the cost of tuition, books, or room and board at an accredited institution of higher learning approved by the New York Rural Water Association.  Disbursement of the money will be made upon presentation of winner’s college invoice as proof of enrollment.  Applicants must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States, a resident of the State of New York and reside on a water/wastewater system that is a member of the NYRWA.  In order to be eligible for a scholarship, applicants must complete the application form in its entirety and return it to the NYRWA by the entry postmark deadline, February 12, 2015.  Please read the offiicial rules on the back of the application.

Great Lakes Action Agenda Public Workshop

Category: Events, General, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:17 AM

You’re Invited! Attend a Great Lakes Action Agenda Public Workshop

New York Sea Grant and NYSDEC’s Great Lakes watershed program are hosting a series of public workshops across New York’s Great Lakes basin to provide information on the Great Lakes Action Agenda, to discuss the proposed strategy for implementing the Agenda, and to seek input on priorities for achieving watershed health across the region.

Please join us for one or more of the following workshops:

  • WATERTOWN — Wednesday, January 28th, 3-5pm*
    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County
    203 North Hamilton Street
    Watertown, New York 13601
  • AUBURN — Thursday, January 29th, 3-5pm*
    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County
    248 Grant Avenue, Suite I
    Auburn, NY 13021-1495
  • EAST AURORA – Wednesday, February 4th, 3-5pm*
    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County
    21 Grove Street
    East Aurora, NY 14052-2345
  • CANANDAIGUA — Thursday, February 5th, 3-5pm*
    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County
    480 North Main Street
    Canandaigua, NY 14424

*An optional discussion and networking session will be held from 5-6pm, following each of the workshops.

Please register!
There is no cost to attend these workshops but pre-registration is required with NY Sea Grant or 315-312-3042.

DRAFT workshop agenda:

  • Welcome and Introductions
  • New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda
    • Implementation plan
    • Funding approach and opportunities
  • Strategies to Move Forward
    • Design and operation of regional workgroups
  • Optional: A networking reception will be held from 5-6pm

January 26, 2015

Beer from Wastewater Plant Effluent

Category: Achievements, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 10:07 AM

There are disturbing aspects to Theera Ratarasarn’s home brew.

The name: Activated Sludge. The label: That is a radiation symbol. The ingredients: It’s brewed with purified Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wastewater plant effluent.

But it tastes great.

To Ratarasarn, making beer with water that hasn’t gone through the final cleaning process was a mission.

“I wanted to get people talking,” he said “There’s a potential use for what we discharge into lakes and streams.”

A wastewater engineer with the state Department of Natural Resources by day, Ratarasarn, 39, has been home-brewing beer for nearly two years, usually at night after his two young sons are in bed.

It’s a simple enough process — mash, boil, add hops, cool, add yeast and ferment. Unless the water is suspect. Then add a half-dozen more steps.

Ratarasarn chlorinated, dechlorinated, filtered, distilled, tested and added nutrients to the water before beginning to make 5 gallons of Activated Sludge, a wheat ale with 5.15% alcohol by volume.

After all those steps, Ratarasarn wasn’t worried about the beer’s safety. Neither was a taste panel at Lakefront Brewery, where Activated Sludge went head-to-head with Lakefront Wheat Monkey.

Panel members smelled their sip of beer. They cracked wise.

“It looks like a good urine sample,” said John Rinson.

Then they tasted.

“No pathogen known to man that can grow in beer,” said brewery president Russ Klisch, who praised Ratarasarn’s Activated Sludge for its golden color. His down note was the beer’s carbonation and lack of body.

Another taster, Mitchel De Santis, graded the beer a 7 on a 10-point scale, giving Ratarasarn two points for creativity. “It’s one of the better home brews I’ve ever had.”

Ratarasarn wanted to prove a point by using the water.

“I wanted to raise awareness of the quality of plant effluent,” he said.

Think Bill Gates and the steam-powered sewage processor he’s touting. Gates’ processor burns solid waste for water and electricity. The water Ratarasarn worked with was clean water, just not clean enough for drinking, said Bill Graffin, MMSD public information officer.

Activated Sludge wheat ale is a similar concept but on a smaller scale.

Arid communities struggle for clean drinking water. Ratarasarn wanted to see what he could do based on the “knowledge that I have.”

He also has a sense of humor about it. A PowerPoint presentation Ratarasarn made illustrating the steps he took is themed “A little bit of me, a little bit of you.”

Ratarasarn chose to brew a wheat beer because he likes them and he’s made them before. He said he steered clear of darker beers such as porters or stouts “so people wouldn’t associate the beer with wastewater.”

The hard part, he said, is getting the water profile correct for each beer he brews. This one, with the substandard water, proved to be the most difficult. Ratarasarn wanted to send the treated MMSD water out for testing and requested the $200 test as a Christmas present.

“My wife asked me what I wanted, and I said a water test,” Ratarasarn said. “She just rolled her eyes and said ‘yes.’”

The tests came back nearly perfect, with less than a trace of silica, likely from the final filter in the distillation unit.

Don’t run to the liquor store just yet. Ratarasarn made Activated Sludge wheat beer for his own consumption. Based on the curiosity factor, Ratarasarn won’t be able to keep his home inventory for long.

“Everybody I talk to wants one,” he said.

Kathy Flaniganauthor thumbnail
Tap Milwaukee reporter Kathy Flanigan covers entertainment news, events and our beer culture. She is the author of Weekend Guide, a newsletter with best bets for weekend activities.

January 23, 2015

Great Opportunity for Elected Officials and Water/Wastewater Personnel

Category: Events, Funding, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 2:27 PM

A Community Economic Development Funding Forum is planned for Wednesday, March 28, 2015, at the Columbia Greene Community College located at 4400 Route 23 Hudson, New York 12534.  This event will run from 9:00 am —2:00 pm.  On behalf of the U.S Department of Agriculture / Rural Development, they invite you to join us at SUNY Columbia/Greene Community College for a full day funding forum that will be discussing and exploring public/private partnerships for statewide community economic development. Join state and federal agencies and departments, industry experts and commercial lenders who will be on hand to present on a number of valuable programs including: available funding, application deadlines, program details, as well as, answering your questions!  Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in morning and afternoon breakout sessions, covering topics that include: 1) Housing & Community Facilities 2) Business 3) Agriculture/ Energy 4) Infrastructure (Water) 5) Infrastructure (Broadband).   To RSVP go to by close of business on Friday March 13th, 2015. Questions?   Please contact

January 22, 2015

Funding Will Help Great Lakes Basin Communities Increase Resiliency to Extreme Storm Events

Category: Funding, General — New York Rural Water @ 2:16 PM

In partnership with New York Sea Grant, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced $89,000 in grants for four projects that will help Great Lakes coastal communities to increase storm resiliency and protect water quality.

“New York remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially from more frequent severe storms,” said Commissioner Martens. “Each project receiving funding has proposed a solution to address these problems locally, to ultimately reduce risk to communities and ecosystems and will help our communities become stronger and more resilient.”

“New York Sea Grant looks forward to administering these awards and working with the recipients to ensure that the documents produced, data generated, and lessons learned are available to all of our Great Lakes communities and stakeholders,” said New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine E. Bunting-Howarth.

Coastal communities along 700 miles of New York Great Lakes’ shoreline are vulnerable to storm surges, flooding, shoreline erosion, and the impact of overdevelopment. Inland communities also experience flooding and erosion as a result of wetland loss and degradation, improper stream management, and excessive development of floodplains.

Grants will be awarded to the following organizations:

  • Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper: $24,482 to improve coastal resilience and community stewardship along Grand Island’s shoreline by engaging shoreline property owners and municipal officials through a combination of technical assistance, and public outreach and education. Program activities will target stretches of shoreline experiencing significant erosion and habitat degradation problems.
  • Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation District, in partnership with the Village of Sodus Point: $25,000 to use a combination of natural vegetation and rock to stabilize an eroding section of shoreline and protect nearby at-risk sewage infrastructure in the Village of Sodus Point. Ultimately, this project will strengthen coastal resiliency by protecting wastewater infrastructure and reducing vulnerability to erosion and coastal storm impacts.
  • Oswego County Soil & Water Conservation District: $25,000 to use an ecosystem-based management approach to identify and assess available shoreline management methods for the North Pond inlet and coastal dune barrier of Eastern Lake Ontario. The project’s findings will be used to inform an inlet management plan that balances the needs and uses of the local community, while achieving ecological stability within this unique barrier-pond ecosystem.
  • Stony Brook University: $14,985 to investigate the potential impact of seiches–standing waves commonly caused by wind–on beach erosion along New York’s Lake Erie shoreline. This project may have important resiliency implications for coastal engineering practices, which have not typically considered seiches in shoreline protection design.

New York’s Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program is a project of the state Environmental Protection Fund’s Ocean-Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Program. Grant projects support the goals of an Interim NYS Great Lakes Action Agenda, a plan for applying ecosystem-based management to complex environmental problems in order to conserve, protect and enhance our irreplaceable Great Lakes natural resources.

For more information on the Interim NYS Great Lakes Action Agenda, visit DEC’s website. For more information on the grant projects (Offsite Link), go to

January 20, 2015

Instructional Videos for Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law

Category: General, Wastewater — New York Rural Water @ 9:10 AM
  • YouTube Videos: Instructional videos for Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law notifiers and general public:DEC has created an instructional video and manual for individuals authorized to report sewage spills through the NY-Alert system. Links to the video and manual are on the Sewage Discharge Reporting Toolbox webpage.

    DEC has also created instructional videos to help the public sign up to receive notifications from NY-Alert and learn how to customize their NY-Alert account to receive sewage spill notifications. Links to these videos are on the Sewage Pollution Right to Know webpage. DEC is currently processing applications from municipal sewer systems to use the NY-Alert system and full use of the system is expected within the next few months.

January 9, 2015

New Yorkers Paying the Most for Gas

Category: General — New York Rural Water @ 4:06 PM

ALBANY – Gas prices across the nation have fallen to their lowest point in years, but New Yorkers still pay the most in the contiguous United States.

The main reason is New York has as many as seven different state taxes that add up to 45 cents per gallon, as well as 19 cents per gallon in federal taxes.

The average price of unleaded regular in New York on Wednesday was $2.70 a gallon, compared to a national average of $2.19 a gallon. Only Hawaii and Alaska have higher prices.

“I don’t think the average New Yorker has any clue how much they pay in taxes when they pull up to the pump,” said John Corlett, legislative chairman for AAA New York.

Mohamad Madian, 51, who operates River Taxi in the City of Poughkeepsie, filled up on Wednesday at the Mobil station on Mansion Street in the City, where the cash price for regular was $2.63 per gallon.

“We pay too much tax for gas,” said Madian, who said he fills up in Highland due to cheaper prices when possible. “(People) pay taxes when they get a paycheck. They pay taxes for all items when they’re shopping, for gas, or whatever. And how much is left for them? Nothing.”

New Yorkers pay about 64 cents per gallon in taxes, the most of any state, AAA estimated. The national average is 49.28 cents, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

At the Gulf station on Washington Street in the City, where prices ranged from $2.57 for regular to $3.07 for premium, Isa Berra, 18, remained positive.

“I think that’s actually pretty cheap,” said Berra, while pumping premium into her mother’s car. “Weren’t we at almost $4 (per gallon) before?”

Critics said the bigger problem in New York is that the revenue from the gas taxes doesn’t end up where it’s supposed to.

Only 22 percent of the $3.8 billion collected from highway taxes and fees each year goes to capital road projects, and the rest is diverted to cover state operating costs, mainly debt payments, a report in February from the state Comptroller’s Office found.

In 1991, New York established the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund to collect fees and taxes to pay for road repairs. But the fund is always raided, leaving critical highway and bridge projects unfunded, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

Business groups said that if the state is going to hit drivers with high taxes, the money should at least go to infrastructure needs. DiNapoli estimated in 2012 that New Yorkfaces a shortfall of up to $89 billion in funding for water, sewer and transportation projects over the next two decades.

“If you’re going to charge us the tax, then at least put the tax to work on what you intended it to do, so we can have better roads and bridges,” Brian Sampson, president of the state chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

On Wednesday, AAA reported the average price for unleaded regular was $2.78 a gallon in the Rochester and Buffalo areas, compared to $2.74 in New York City, $2.66 in the Albany area and $2.57 in the Binghamton area.

It was $2.19 per gallon in neighboring New Jersey, $2.49 in Pennsylvania and $2.57 in Connecticut.

When gas prices soared in 2011, state lawmakers sought to cap New York’s gas taxes.

Since 2006, the state has capped its taxes on gasoline at $2 a gallon. So anything above $2 per gallon is not subject to the state’s 4 percent sales tax, or a total of 8 cents that is collected.

Counties also have the option of capping its taxes on gasoline, but few do and most use a four percent sales-tax rate. So the higher the gas price, the more revenue counties and other local governments collect.

Higher gas taxes makes New York less competitive with other states, some lawmakers said. New York is already labeled by the Tax Foundation, a conservative Washington D.C. group, as being among the highest taxed, less competitive states in the country.

Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said the state should revisit its gas-tax structure and at least put more of the money to infrastructure needs. New York has $5 billion in bank settlements this year, and a bulk of the money is expected to go to road and bridge needs.

“Reducing the gasoline tax should still be on the radar because that’s part of us making the worst business-friendly state in the nation,” he said.

Joseph Spector:, Twitter:@gannettalbany

Journal staff reporter Mark Gerlach contributed to this report.

Taxing totals

Below is a breakdown of the gasoline taxes in New York, according to AAA, as of Jan. 1. The estimated sales tax would vary based on the pump price and county of sale.

NYS Excise Tax: 8 cents

NYS Petroleum Business Tax: 17.8 cents

NYS Fuel Quality Testing Tax: .05 cents

NYS Oil Spill Fund: .0196 cents

State Sales Tax: 8 cents

The Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District — including NYC and the Hudson Valley — surcharge: .75 cents

Local Sales Tax: 10.88 cents

Total State Taxes: 45.49 cents

Federal Taxes: 18.63 cents

Federal and State Tax Combined: 64.12 cents

VSAT and WHEAT Classroom Training for Spring 2015

Category: Events, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 10:03 AM

The USEPA will hold classroom training on two key water sector risk assessment tools:  Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT), version 6; and Water Health and Economic Analysis Tool (WHEAT), version 3.

Water and wastewater utilities of all sizes can use these tools to perform an all-hazards risk assessment.  EPA has updated these tools to be easier to use, provide more capability, meet water sector risk assessment standards and offer DHS SAFETY Act liability protection.

This 2 day course will deliver hands-on instruction in using these tools, along with techniques for the most challenging parts of water sector risk assessments, like estimating threats, vulnerability and consequences.

Who should attend?  Drinking water and wastewater utility staff; technical assistance providers; state, local, tribal and territorial officials who support water sector risk assessments.  Continuing education hours will be available to operators in eligible states, you will need to check with the NYSDOH and NYSDEC to see if these hours apply.

The most local location for us is Edison, NJ March 24-25-, 2015.  To register for this training, visit

If you have any questions, please email Dan Schmelling at

Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how your utility can use EPA tools to enhance your security and resilience.

January 7, 2015

Keeping Meds Out of the Water Supply

Category: Achievements, General, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 9:22 AM

COXSACKIE — Got a medicine cabinet full of expired or no-longer-needed pills that you don’t know what to do with?

One of the worst things you can do is what physicians used to advise years ago — don’t flush them down the toilet.

While flushing unwanted meds used to be considered the way to go, it is now known that doing so puts unwanted chemicals into the water supply.

But what to do with them? The Coxsackie Police Department now has a solution — they’ve recently had a medication “drop box” installed inside the police station that offers an easy way to dispose of unwanted and expired medications.

According to Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans, the drop box is now available to anyone in the community, and others are also available around the county.

“We got one, the sheriff’s office and the Windham Police Department got one,” Evans said. “If people have prescription medications, we don’t want them flushing them down the toilet — it could potentially end up in the wastewater treatment system or in the river.”

Anyone wanting to dispose of medications can bring the entire prescription bottle to the Coxsackie Police Department between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight. The drop box does not accept sharps, or disposable needles and syringes, which must be disposed of safely in a special hazardous waste container. Please check with your physician to learn the proper way to dispose of these kinds of items.

But for medications that are expired, no longer needed, or which you just don’t want to keep around the house, the Coxsackie police station at the Village Building, 119 Mansion Street, is an easy solution.

“This was an initiative by the Rural Health Network, and there was also a statewide effort to do this to keep these medications out of the water supply,” Evans said.

“For years, people were told the best thing to do was flush them, but then it was learned that it was bad for the environment and was getting into the water supply,” he explained.

For safety purposes, the drop box is kept locked at all times, and everything is picked up every six months or so by the sheriff’s office. From there, they are brought to an incinerator in Ulster County.

Police Officer Ashley Earle said the drop box has proven to be a handy tool for families who didn’t know what else to do with unwanted meds.

“I have had people who have a parent who was deceased and they didn’t know what to do with the medications that were left behind,” Earle said, pointing out that the issue has come up before. “I would refer them to hospitals or the person’s doctor — [the police department] couldn’t be responsible for medications without a program for it.”

But now a program is in place, and the service is free of charge.

December 17, 2014

NYSDOH Recommends No Fracking

Category: Events, General, Hydrofracking, Wastewater, Water — New York Rural Water @ 2:00 PM

Here’s the story:

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