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Amsterdam receives nearly $1 million for water fixes

August 01, 2017 05:51 PM

AMSTERDAM -- After two feet of dark brown sewage gushed into the basement of her Pershing Road home, Laurie Ilagan told herself everything she just lost was replaceable. That was until she found her mother's painting, saturated in filth.

"It was a picture of The Last Supper, a religious icon my mother had treasured, I picked it up hoping to salvage it, and the frame and the picture literally fell apart in my hands," said Ilagan.

The road has had problems with sewage backups for 10 years. A June 30th rainstorm was the worst yet. Ilagan says the cap of a pipe in her basement blew off because of pressure in the backed up combined sewer underground. The 120 year old clay pipes handle both sewage and rainwater. When crews dug under the road to make a minor fix, they found a pipe almost completely filled with roots.  

The long-term fix will start anytime.  Amsterdam received $920,000 in state grant money to make repairs to the pipe just two days after applying to a new program. The idea for the Water Infrastructure Emergency Assistance Program was brought to the state legislature after Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara saw what happened on Forest Avenue last year.

A hard-to-find leak kept spilling raw sewage into the Chuctanunda Creek, while Amsterdam tried to find a way to pay for it.

To date, it's spilled nearly 8 million gallons and crews won't be completely done fixing it until the end of August.

"The program was designed to deliver funds much quicker than the normal application process. And some of these emergencies just can't wait," said Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam. "With my background as a civil engineer, I can tell you that when you wait to repair emergencies like that, it becomes more costly, they affect more people."

On Tuesday, two days after applying to the Water Infrastructure Emergency Assistance Program, Amsterdam was wired the $920,000 for two fixes.  A broken water line under the Route 30 bridge affecting 4,000 people was also included in the application.

"If this funding was not available, now you're putting another million dollars on the taxpayers unaccounted for, in the middle of a budget year," said Michael Villa, mayor.

The Pershing Road project is expected to be completed in 45 days. The money will pay for 300 feet of 8 inch sewer pipe. The project will also separate the combined sewer.

Although Ilagan says she can never use her basement the same way again after what she saw and smelled, there's hope that it will never happen again.

"Finally someone listened," said Ilagan.  

Also Tuesday, Amsterdam sent 1.48 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Mohawk River from its municipal wastewater plant.  The reason for the discharge according to DEC alerts was "Blocked: Pump was airbound, only discharging a reduced amount of flow."
 

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Asa Stackel

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