Waste Watch: Onondaga Co. Legislature to discuss $30 million 'Save the Rain' cost overrun

Crews work on the water storage facility Tuesday morning.

The Onondaga County Legislature met Tuesday to decide how it will tackle a large cost overrun in connection with the "Save the Rain" project.

Lawmakers approved a resolution to schedule a public hearing on whether to authorize an additional $20 million for the construction of a water storage facility near Armory Square. The facility is designed to stop sewage contaminated rainwater from entering Onondaga Creek during heavy storms. Legislator Michael Plochocki told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "Myself and the other legislators are very disappointed, but it's a disappointment that we're going to have to live with and that we understand."

In 2008, the county decided to build a storage facility rather than a $94 million sewage treatment plant at the urging of environmentalists, residents and businesses.

The Legislature originally authorized $61.5 million for the Clinton water storage project, knowing that it would eventually be asked to spend more money for the project.

Deputy County Executive Matt Millea says despite the extra cost, the water storage facility is still less expensive than a sewage treatment plant. "This is absolutely cheaper than a sewage treatment facilty, it is better than a sewage treatment facility." Millea says when the plant begins operation by the end of the year, the county will meet an important milestone in compliance with a federal court order to clean up Onondaga Lake.

In addition to the $20 million in extra costs currently under consideration, Onondaga County is facing a potential lawsuit from the contractor Jett Industries asking for an additional $10 million due to unanticipated construction problems.