A typographical error was fixed, and now the Springs School will receive a $1.33 million grant for a new septic system, school superintendent Debra Winter said last week.
“They spelled Accabonac with a K at the end,” she said about the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation initial rejection of the school system’s application for a grant to replace its aging septic system, built in 1946 to serve one-third the amount of the 900 students and teachers now at the school. The grant request was based on the fact that the school is in the Accabonac Harbor watershed, as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.
In order to qualify for the grant, the DEC needed to determine that the school sits in a watershed area. “’Why did you apply for this grant when you are not in a watershed?’” Winter said the school was told after the DEC initially rejected the request. It turned out the DEC had spelled Accabonac “Accabonak,” which is why it could not find it in its database of watershed areas. “These are funds from Governor Cuomo,” Winter said. “He is making up for the DEC screwup. He is the hero. Assemblyman Thiele had a lot to do with it, as well.”
According to the governor’s office’s press release announcing the grant last week, the new septic system will decrease nitrogen and bacteria in Pussy’s Pond and Accabonac Harbor, with the nitrogen concentration expected to drop by 94 percent.
The school board had already budgeted $800,000 for the project, as part of a $16.9 million bond approved this past Spring. While the grant will save the Springs taxpayers some money, the exact amount is not known. Winter is concerned about the possibility that the cost of the raw materials needed for the project, such as steel, could skyrocket if America gets into an all-out trade war. At the same time, she sees her job as one of protecting and saving the taxpayers money. Donations are always welcome for the school system, which has several educational programs running this summer, she said.
At the same time as the new shallow septic rings are being installed next summer in the ballfield area of the school property, roofers will begin replacing the roofing over the older part of the school. But the summer programs will continue throughout, Winter promised.
Additional reporting by Kate Ward.