Michael J. Garland, P.E.
Department of Environmental Services
7100 City Place
50 W. Main St.
Phone: 585 753-7600
Protecting the county’s land and water from pollution represents the most basic aspect of environmental protection. To control the sheer magnitude of industrial and residential solid waste and wastewater generated by our society demands a coordinated, comprehensive and forward-looking approach. The Monroe County Department of Environmental Services (DES) combines advanced wastewater and solid waste management into one sophisticated and proactive organization.
The staff members of these divisions work together, both in the office and out in the field, to minimize the adverse impacts that our county’s population has on its surrounding land and waterways.
Older cities use sewer systems that combine household/commercial/industrial sewage and stormwater runoff into one pipe system for conveyance to wastewater treatment plants. During major rain events, these combined sewers are designed to overflow into waterbodies to reduce damage to homes and facilities. To substantially lessen these overflows in Rochester, a massive underground wastewater tunnel system became fully operational in 1993, completing over 20 years of design and construction. This Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Program (CSOAP) has drastically improved the quality of Rochester area waters by virtually eliminating the 60-70 annual sewer overflows that had occurred prior to its existence. The county took advantage of federal and state programs, which paid for nearly 88 percent of the tunnel system’s $550 million design and construction costs. This tunnel system, along with Pure Waters' expanding sewer collection system, has allowed for the connection of county towns and villages and the elimination of 37 of 40 small, less efficient treatment plants discharging to local waters. The Pure Waters system has become a model to other communities nationwide.
While the CSOAP system has minimized combined sewer overflows, they still occur--as designed--when the system exceeds capacity. New York's Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law (2013) requires that any discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage from publicly owned treatment works and sewer systems to local waterbodies be reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) within two hours of discovery and to the public and adjoining municipalities within four hours of discovery. The notification can help the public avoid contact with waterbodies that may contain bacteria that can cause illness while boating, swimming or fishing. The below linked NYSDEC webpage contains helpful information, lists discharges and allows the public to sign up for text or email alerts (via NY-Alert).
Tours of Monroe County wastewater treatment and other facilities can be scheduled for community, scouting and school groups subject to the operational, seasonal, and maintenance schedules of each facility.
To inquire about DES facility tours, call 585 753-7526 (tours of the Monroe County Recycling Center are no longer being scheduled). A inquire about touring the Mill Seat Landfill, call 585 494-3000. When calling, please be prepared with the following information:
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