McKownville Improvement Association
McKownville sewer system and Sewer District

The Pitkin-Witbeck Realty Company system
The Pitkin-Witbeck Realty Company laid out the Country Club Highlands development in 1912, and soon after had a combined storm drain/sewer system installed for all the streets in that development, mostly using the common alleys for their location. According to William Embler, each house had a septic tank; an overflow pipe from each of these was connected to the combined drainage pipe system. Most of these drains were connected to a main along the north side of Western Avenue, crossing that between Arcadia and Hillcrest Avenues, and then to a disposal field and outfall at the east branch of the Krumkill south of the Helme Farm. Sewers on Knowles Terrace, and on Arcadia, Hillcrest and Brookwood Avenues also connected to this drain. For the time, this was a modern system; most houses in McKownville on the streets that connected to Western Avenue had indoor plumbing, and there were few outhouses!
However, the minutes of the McKownville Improvement Association in the 1930's and early 1940's show that parts of the system were not well constructed, with several quite expensive repairs and extensions being necessary, funded by the homeowners, coordinated by the Improvement Association. The Pitkin-Witbeck Realty Company did not take reponsibility for such repairs, it seems apparent from the surviving records, mainly these minutes of the Improvement Association.
In 1946, residents were told in the report of the Improvement Association Water and Sewer committee that the existing sewer systems did not meet the State Department of Health requirements, and that the Health Department was aware of this fact. This report also states that ownership of the storm drain/sewer overflow system was even then not clear, and that no one seemed to be responsible for it.
The 1948 Decision document of the NY State Water and Power Control Commission notes that at that time: "Three privately owned sewer systems serve parts of the hamlet and discharge their sewers into [the] Krum Kill some distance below the [water] storage reservoirs. The remainder of the hamlet is served by individual cesspools or septic tanks."
McKownville sewer map
        1950 small image
1950 map showing the McKownville Sewer District system; this used the existing older installations of the original Pitkin-Witbeck sewer system and later additions to that; the connected Farley system from Providence, Mercer and Warren Streets; and the separate system for Westlyn Court and Terrace, and Ayre Drive, which had an outfall into the Krum Kill west branch at the Ayre Drive crossing. Part of the western end of the Pitkin-Witbeck system drained under Western Avenue near the end of Elmwood Street, and through a pipe near and under McKowns Grove Pond to an outfall also in the Krum Kill west branch near the place where it crosses under McKown Road.
(click on the image for a larger version - 2MB pdf file)

The McKownville Sewer District system

Starting in September 1944 the McKownville Improvement Association appointed a committee to investigate and report on the possibilities for improvement of McKownville's sewer and water system and the cost of such improvements. A summary report was released to residents in June 1946, based in part on an engineering study done in 1945. A taxpayers petition to the Town was passed, to form the McKownville Sewer District and to replace all the existing system and install a treatment plant. The Town Board tentatively approved this plan in April 1947, but the State Comptroller declined to approve it due to the large debt burden, additional to the costs for the Water District, that this would have imposed on residents. The Town formed the McKownville Sewer District using the existing systems. Despite not meeting State Department of Health standards in 1946, improvement of this had to wait until 1969, when a replacement plan similar to that proposed in 1946 was approved; construction was completed in 1973.
A public explanatory document issued by the Town in 1969 outlining the replacement plan, its funding, and the tax implications [1MB pdf]
Two detailed plans showing part of the new sewer system:
Area of Arcadia Avenue to the Krum Kill east branch [3.6 MB pdf]
Area of the Krum Kill east branch to the confluence with the west branch [4.4 MB pdf]
Photomap of the eastern part of the system (map ?about 2011) [0.45 MB pdf]

Guilderland Sewer District (successor to McKownville Sewer District, and other predecessors in the Town of Guilderland) 
Since 1973, when construction and installation of the new system was completed, McKownville sewers and storm water drains have been incorporated into the Guilderland Sewer District, operated by the Water Department of the Town of Guilderland. McKownville sewers lead to the pumping plant on the west branch of the Krum Kill between E. Dillenbeck Drive and Wood Street. The Water Department public web pages at present do not contain any information on the system.

Generally this system is out of sight and out of mind, as long as it works, but there was one notable incident causing significant damage to the pumping plant; gasoline leaking into the sewer system from an underground tank of a service station on Western Avenue resulted in an explosion early one Sunday morning, 1st July 1984.

McKownville water and sewer existing 2010
McKownville sewer, water, and storm drains in 2010, for the area north of Western Avenue, and the drains running from there into the area south of Western Avenue.

(click on the image for a larger version - 0.5MB pdf file)

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