In Depth: Amsterdam sewage continues to flow

February 21, 2017 09:19 PM

AMSTERDAM -  Work that began at Forest Avenue last summer, led to the discovery of a collapsed pipe at Sloan Avenue.

Richard Miller believed that fixing it would stop contaminated wastewater from flowing out of bedrock and into the Chuctanunda creek.

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"Televising it after we cleaned it and did the repair we found there was other areas where the pipes were bad," Amsterdam City Engineer, Richard Miller explained.

Moreover, contamination levels in the water did not decrease. 

To date, an additional 1.9 million gallons of sewage mixed with groundwater have poured into the Mohawk river by way of the creek and it is still flowing.

"Do you feel frustrated?" Karen Tararache asked.

"No, well to a degree yes but no, not really because I know where the problem is we just can't go in and do it right now because of the weather situation," Miller replied. 

Between September of last year and this January, we reported five more leaks- all a result of equipment failure and power outages at the east side pump station.

During this time, a total of 1.6 million gallons of untreated sewage escaped treatment and went straight into the Mohawk river.

"Certainly I wouldn't in want it in my backyard, you wouldn't want it in yours and we certainly don't want it where it is right now," Mayor Mike Villa said. 

A previously approved $5 million grant and loan will cover the cost of a new $1,000,000 dollar pump and a $250,000 generator at 46 Swan Street.

Nevertheless, repairing 100-year-old pipes in one area could cause a domino effect of issues elsewhere and that has the Mayor looking to lawmakers for help.  

"Those municipalities should have access to $100 million dollars, which I pointed out in my bill that would give them access to start the process to start the work immediately to correct the problem," Senator George Amedore explained.

The NYS Emergency Infrastructure Act, Senator Amedore proposes would appropriate settlement funds already in the general budget to the Environmental Facilities Corporation or EFC. 

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara's bill asks the state to establish a separate fund for municipalities.

"If you're going to allocate a certain amount of money infrastructure projects you take 10% of that and you put it into an emergency fund, it's managed by EFC."

Both Senator Amedore and Assemblyman Santabaraba are working together.

Both bills are in committee and have not yet made it to the floor for a vote.

WNYT- NewsChannel 13 will keep an eye on their progress.

Repairs at the pump station and Sloan and Clark Avenue sewers will begin sometime this spring.

It's your right to know about contamination in our creeks and rivers.

You can sign up for sewage alerts with the DEC, here


Karen Tararache

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