APRIL 13, 2012

The Romans had them, but Katonah still waits

Nope, not this time. It may not be the last time that sewers are proposed for Bedford’s Consolidated Water District, but more than a few businesses and residents — including those hoping for the return of sidewalk seating at Katonah cafes — share disappointment at the town board decision not to pursue a new plan for sewers. 

The Bedford Town Board last week voted not to proceed with the expansion of an existing treatment facility as part of plans for a sewer system serving Katonah and Bedford Hills, and instead will now explore other options to handle the town’s wastewater.

The board’s unanimous vote on Tuesday, April 3, put an end to a nine-year examination of plans to expand a wastewater treatment plant currently owned by the New York State Department of Corrections on Beaver Dam Road. The vote came as a result of a request by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which is concerned about Bedford’s solutions to wastewater runoff in city reservoirs.

The big picture on sewers in Bedford — particularly the hamlet of Katonah — is epic.

Katonah was destroyed in 1893 so that New York City could have clean water. The 500 residents, 75 houses and cottages by the side of the Cross River moved downriver to make way for a dam. The greater part of what was once Katonah is now deep underwater.

After the village was established in its new location, the city never dealt with the aftermath of new Katonah’s water supply by providing sewers. As a result, runoff from Bedford’s nearly 1.375 million gallons per day enters the Croton Watershed. 

Through the years, sewers have been a perennial topic, holding hidden promise. In the 1980s a plan to sewer the Consolidated Water District — which includes parts of Katonah and Bedford Hills — was decisively voted down by residents. In the years to come, the topic continued to dominate discussion.

As the 21st century neared, innovations in technology, including wastewater, recycling and filtration systems, changed the nature of the game. A plan to ship wastewater to Peekskill or Mount Vernon in the 1990s was shot down as “environmental racism,” and other alternatives for wastewater disposal were sought. On the legislative front, key changes also played a role, as the DEP lifted laws prohibiting filtration of DEP water and allowed construction of wastewater treatment facilities in watershed towns.

This year we are seeing the fruition of one long-awaited, and long-debated, improvement — water flowing from the New York City reservoir system, to be delivered to consumers after filtration at the new $22 million filtration plant on Route 35 east of Route 22 in Katonah.

Using ultraviolet disinfection, coagulation and microfiltration, the plant will make drinking water potable in the Consolidated Water District, one of Bedford’s four water districts, serving approximately 7,000 people in residences and businesses in Katonah, Bedford Hills and several small pockets on the east side of I-684 south of Route 35.

Costs from this are already rattling homeowners who are unused to the extra water bills, which are expected to run at about $785 per year for water district customers.

As with the filtration plant, the same customers would have been asked to bear the costs of the sewage system — residents of the special district are required to fund their own supply and any costs associated with it.

Also coming into play was more than $50 million in East of Hudson funds that were distributed by the DEP in 1997 to help pay costs borne by watershed towns.

In anticipation of the DEP modifying its regulations, Bedford stepped up its efforts to explore its options in terms of making the much-needed switch from septic systems to a centralized wastewater collection and treatment system and plant. The money for such a plan has already been allocated — it was given to the county for the watershed towns a decade ago.

The estimated cost of a wastewater treatment plant is $54.3 million.  Even with $15 million pledged for the project by the DEP and another $10 million in East of Hudson funds already allocated for it, the board ultimately decided that asking taxpayers to foot the remaining $29.3 million was untenable.

It is exhilarating that this generation is the first that can see these critical infrastructure improvements, both filtration and wastewater disposal. It is tragic, though, that to implement both would be placing a too-onerous burden on local residents.

While the town board has tabled this idea for now, we hope that government teamwork — involving the New York City DEP, the watershed towns, taxpayers and potential partners like the state, Department of Corrections or others — will prevail to provide a “20th-century” solution, just about a 100 years late.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York



  1. Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  2. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  3. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  4. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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264 Adams Street, Bedford Hills, NY

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