Amsterdam couple demands solution to ongoing sewage leak

December 15, 2016 07:10 AM

AMSTERDAM -- Joseph and Ellen Benanto say sewage has leaked into the Chuctanunda Creek behind their Amsterdam home on Forest Ave. for more than 20 years.

And it got worse this past summer.

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“When we don't have rain and the creek is real low, you can really smell it,” said Joe Benanto. “But that could be coming from any place.”

They say the city hired construction crews to dig up their back yard near the creek twice -- in the summer and October -- to find the source of the leak. But they were unsuccessful.

“They were going to pipe it back to Forest Ave. and run it through the actual sewer, so instead of it going into the creek, they were going to just divert it,” said Ellen Benanto.

That didn't happen and sewage is still leaking into the creek. It's part of a larger problem Amsterdam has been dealing with since the summer when a sewage spill dumped millions of gallons of waste into the Mohawk River.

City officials say it came from a hole in a dam in the Chuctanunda Creek near a sewer line on Forest Ave. Workers replaced the sewer line, which is right outside the Benanto's home and empties into the Mohawk.

But the leak continued.

 “We talked to the city engineer,” said Ellen Benanto. “Anytime we talk to anybody they're very evasive. They don't know. That's the answer: ‘we don't know where its coming from.’”

NewsChannel 13 didn't hear back from Assem. Angelo Santabarbara about this story. In November, he told us many of the city's sewage pipes are 120 years old and need replacing.

“That piping in that area is all the same age,” he said at the time. “So if it’s starting to fail in these areas, it could easily be failing in other areas.”

Besides the foul smell, the Benanto's say they're concerned about animals that drink the water and kids who play in the creek. The couple says they're also worried about the new mess they've been left with.

“I got this big hole out here, which you could see,” said Joe Benanto.

Added Ellen Benanto: “They took trees down. They took everything down that was there. I'd like to have my yard put back.”

The Benanto's say contractors picked up their equipment just minutes before NewsChannel 13 arrived to interview them without fixing their backyard or finding the source of the leak.

Last month, Amsterdam city engineers found another leak on Sloan and Smith Avenues.


WNYT Staff

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