Scope and Content Note

The series consists of files on projects for sewage treatment works in state municipalities for which state planning aid was requested. The records include correspondence, memoranda, discharge permits, certificates of expenditures, engineers' field reports, and applications for state grants to fund preliminary and detailed plans for public sewer systems or treatment works.

Typical projects for which state planning aid is requested include construction of sanitary sewers, truck sewer extensions, garbage incinerators, outfall sewers, and new disposal plants or proposed additions and alterations to existing sewage treatment plants.

The bulk of the files were created as a result of Chapter 578 of the Laws of 1947. That law allowed municipalities (often on behalf of sewer districts) to apply to the Superintendent of Public Works for state grants of up to half of the cost of preparing preliminary plans for a public sewer system or sewage treatment works which might be undertaken by the municipality. After approval of the preliminary plans, the superintendent could then fund up to half of the cost of detailed plans, specifications, and estimates for such work. Neither state nor municipality was committed to any appropriation for actual construction. In addition, the superintendent could request that the plans for which the grant was made include engineering reports, test borings, pictures, sketches, renderings, models, or other pertinent data relating to the improvement for which the plans were prepared, with additional money allocated by the state to cover the extra costs for such data. The superintendent was further charged to maintain current progress information on the design of public works projects for which the state had made a grant in aid for the preparation of plans.

Under this law the Department of Public Works succeeded the Temporary Commission for Postwar Public Works Planning (which had been created by Chapter 660 of the Laws of 1942) and took over responsibility for oversight on projects begun by that body. The earliest records in the series relate to that commission. The series also includes some documents from the Department of Health, which had authority to issue permits (under the Public Health Law) allowing discharge of sewage effluent into state waters, and which apparently kept these records as part of its responsibilities to maintain the state sanitary code and monitor waste management. Municipalities were free to consult private firms for preparation of the detailed plans and many documents originate from such sources.

Each project is assigned a file number, and in addition to general correspondence and memoranda between state and local government departments the files generally include: applications for planning grants, with cost and contract estimates and often including authorization of city/town councils or other municipal authority to apply for state planning money; copies of correspondence advising that final plans for projects have been approved; resolutions of town boards approving the application process and/or the appropriation of the local share of the cost of preparing plans for municipal projects, sometimes including correspondence on financing methods or problems; certifications that the matching local money had been made available (to fully complete funds necessary for planning); engineer's field reports, giving purpose and description of the project, benefits resulting from the work, and status on plans and/or selection of plan preparers; voucher forms and confirming correspondence for state installment payments for test borings, engineer's reports, and other extra data necessary for application approval; forms on revised allocations for preliminary and final plans and expenditures incurred as a result of supplying extra data requirements; and sewage discharge permits and approvals.

The files also contain scattered maps, plans, and diagrams. These are usually whiteprint or blueprint copies of village or town locations that have been hand annotated in color. They are made to various scales, and there is often a printed block containing information on title, date, and signatures of consulting engineers and/or the initials of those who drew, traced, and checked the maps and plans. Very few of the project files include a map or plan, although because they were often required as part of the process of establishing or extending a sewer district, that sort of base map is commonly used. Typical examples include: preliminary plans for proposed intercepting sewers, pumping stations, and sewage treatment plant; location maps showing existing sewer outlets, waste supply intakes and treatment plant site; location plan of master trunk lines and phase and contract designations for sanitary sewer districts; photocopy of a topographic print map of a proposed county sewer district, showing proposed plant site and approximate boundary of the district and annotated in color to show trunk lines; zone map annotated to show existing and proposed sewers, trunks, and force main; general location blueprint of comprehensive sanitary sewerage system showing proposed sewer lines; and diagrams of a treatment plant done in the case of remodeling.