Municipalities and other public and private entities face substantial wastewater treatment challenges with limited budgets. (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
The Village of Kenmore, N.Y. was faulted for its wastewater treatment practices in an audit released by that state’s Comptroller’s Office, according to a story in the Buffalo News. The report, and the discussion that followed its issue, provide interesting insights into the wastewater treatment challenges faced by municipalities.
Village officials have not made a substantive effort to use available resources to gain a better understanding of wastewater treatment processes and costs and do not adequately review invoices, analyze lab reports, repair identified sewer main breaks, or document property inspections for improper connections, the report says.
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Mayor Patrick Mang, in a written response to the comptroller’s audit, said, “Well before this audit, the village has been actively looking into the wastewater fund, given the large increase in cost over the years.”
As part of the overall operations, the village contracts with the Town of Tonawanda to treat its wastewater.
The 20-page audit said the village’s superintendent of public works, Andrew Mang, fails to review wastewater lab reports, which can be used to monitor the village’s sanitary sewer costs and identify issues that could indicate problems, the Buffalo News reports. It also said Clerk-Treasurer Kathleen Johnson fails to properly review invoices from the town.
But Patrick Mang said, “The village believes that the clerk/treasurer is adequately reviewing wastewater bills.”
Also, from July 5, 2011, through Nov. 13, 2012, the audit documented 20 sanitary sewer main breaks. However, the audit found no repairs documented in a corresponding log of sewer line repairs for the same period. The mayor responded that water and sewer main breaks are addressed immediately as they occur.
The village spent approximately $1.1 million in 2011 and $1 million in 2012 on wastewater-processing costs, according to the audit. The village’s general, water and sewer funds’ budgeted expenditures for the 2012-13 fiscal year totaled approximately $15.5 million.
The mayor said the town is reviewing its current agreement.
The audit also faulted village officials for not properly safeguarding computerized data on the village’s network. Employees of the village’s information technology vendor can access the network remotely at any time, the audit said, leading to an increased risk of “inappropriate transactions.”