Marsh Creek Spill Update: Local Scientist Says, “Don’t Worry!”

Highly respected scientist (and Geneva City Manager) Matt Horn offered his expertise on the spilling of 5,000 gallons of untreated sewage into Ward 6’s Marsh Creek and Lakefront Park.

The good news is: there’s nothing to worry about!

Esteemed scientist Matt Horn

In a front page story by Steve Buchiere in the Tuesday August 8 2017 Finger Lakes Times, Horn, widely admired as a leading expert in freshwater lake ecology, was asked about the spill affecting shoreline water quality. Horn “doubted the estimated 5,000 gallons of untreated sewage would have a big effect on such a deep lake.”

What a relief! All those other so called “lake experts” have been noting an increase in toxic algae blooms, lower fish populations, high salt levels, and a combination of problems that threaten not only the lake’s recreational value, but also the drinking water of 100,000 people.

Thankfully, the esteemed environmental pollution specialist Horn brilliantly points out that Seneca Lake is pretty big, so we shouldn’t worry about 5,000 gallons of untreated sewage being discharged just a few hundred feet from a popular area for waders and visitors with dogs, and only another 500+ feet to the Geneva Visitors and Events Center.

It’s Not Our Problem!

Tongues are wagging around the watercooler here in the Geneva Believer newsroom regarding the question, “Why didn’t the city warn visitors at Lakefront Park about potential water hazards?” After all, although Lakefront Park is not a swimming beach, visitors certainly aren’t particularly discouraged from wading, or playing with their dogs in the water. The recent upgrades at the Visitors and Events Center even include a multi-level platform pedestrian dock that is literally installed in the water.

It turns out that visitors to Lakefront Park should not be concerned, because according to Dr. Horn, “the typical lake water current tends to take city wastewater discharges toward the Seneca-Cayuga Canal, which is east of Seneca Lake State Park’s beach. (Horn) said water testing by the state would be prudent to ensure the safety of swimmers.”

Such great news! Our city manager, who is also revered for his years of studying water currents, says that any appreciable amount of sewage that gets dumped into the lake from Marsh Creek (or any discharge from the Marsh Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant) flows AWAY from the Geneva Visitors and Events Center a little over a mile to Seneca Lake State Park beach!

Professor Horn in his laboratory

Hooray! It’s not our problem, Geneva!

Three cheers for science!

No Worries Around Marsh Creek, Either!

Not only did visitors to Lakefront Park have nothing to worry about, Ward 6 residents living around Marsh Creek and visitors to Gulvin Park weren’t in danger of exposed to any potential contamination, either. How can we be sure?

Because Dr. Horn has never mentioned them at all!

Protocol for All!

The second-most talked-about subject here at Geneva Believer headquarters is “Why didn’t the city warn visitors at Lakefront Park about potential water hazards, especially after the Geneva Foundry contamination debacle?”

From the Finger Lakes Times:

“Some critics…have claimed that the city could have done more to communicate the spill to residents. The city has been criticized for its alleged lack of communication regarding the Geneva Foundry contamination.

Horn believes the city followed protocol by using the alert system.”

Back in early December of 2016, Horn made similar statement about the Geneva Foundry, at a time when emotions were high and residents were asking why the city failed to warn people that their yards were poisoned with lead and arsenic.

From the Finger Lakes Times article from 12-4-16 “HORN: CITY FOLLOWED PROTOCOL ON FOUNDRY:”

GENEVA — While city of Geneva officials have been criticized for their handling of contaminated soil around the former Geneva Foundry site, City Manager Matt Horn on Friday said they have been following protocol for an issue that dates back more than 30 years.

“The city did what it was responsible for,” Horn said. “The state maybe should have told the residents the results of any testing they did. The city didn’t have the expertise to say what the testing numbers meant.”

Now, lots of cities out there fail to follow protocol all the time, because they clearly don’t take the following of protocol as seriously as we do here in Geneva.

But here in Geneva, thanks to the efforts of scientist and City Manager Horn, we can always be confident that protocol is being followed, even if following protocol may put residents in harm’s way!


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