City gets $45K for CSO sewer project

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - Updated: 4:08 AM


Recorder News Staff

Amsterdam will receive $45,540 in state funding to improve reporting of Combine Sewer Overflows, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

Amsterdam is among 10 municipalities statewide that were awarded grants totaling $386,837 to improve detection and monitoring of combined sewer overflows required under the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law.

The funding will enable the city to install a multi-sensor monitoring unit, dual wave area-velocity flow sensor, alarm float switch, and tilt switch at each pump station.

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa said the grant enables the city to address an important issue and the monitoring system will greatly benefit the city.

"We're grateful the state is looking hard at infrastructure, because we're one of many communities that face these pressing issues that are very costly," Villa said.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said as a civil engineer, he knows the grant funding allows for a smart investment to improve infrastructure in Amsterdam. He said the funds would help protect the health and safety of residents through identifying problems earlier and providing more warning.

Santabarbara said making improvements to infrastructure before a crisis is important and can help deter future costs associated with emergency repairs.

"This additional funding is great news, because it ensures we continue the progress on making instructure repairs where it's needed the most," Santabarbara said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced new regulations for the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law, which requires municipalities to notify the public of a discharge from combined sewer overflow systems. The discharge notifications inform residents if water bodies used for recreation may be impacted.

The DEC also requires municipalities to use the NY-Alert notification system to inform the public, which can be viewed at

The city must complete a $5 million project to improve the city's aging sewer system to comply with a consent order from the state Department of Enviromental Conservaiton.

The city paid a $13,750 in 2015 to resolve a violation it incurred in 2013 when 24 million gallons of untreated sewage was released into the Mohawk River due to mechanical failures at the west side pump station.

The city had been assessed a $68,750 civil penalty under a DEC consent order, but $55,000 of that amount was suspended after city accepted responsibility and continued to work towards improvements to prevent future incidents.

To comply with the order, the city has been working to separate its stormwater and sewer systems, which were originally combined.

The project includes sanitary sewer pump station improvements at three locations, replacing portions of the existing sanitary sewer collection system with new pipes or pipe lining, and repairing or replacing leaking manhole structures and more.

In addition to complying with the DEC, the city is in the process of handling a sewer leak which has discharged untreated sewage into the North Chuctanunda Creek at an estimated 10 gallons per minutes since the summer.

Villa said the city is in the process of testing water samples to determine what, if any, effect the recent sewer line replacement along Sloane Avenue had on quelling the ongoing sewage leak. Villa said a few rounds of testing must be conducted before reaching a determination, which has not happened to date.

"We'll do a number of tests, and if it continues then we'll have to go beyond where we are," Villa said,

City Engineer Richard Miller suspected the Sloane Avenue breakage was "one of the main players" in the ongoing issue. He had said, however there was something "strange" about the leak, because when dye was placed into the sewer by the leak it did not turn up in the creek.

Around the middle of August, construction crews finished installing more than 500 feet of new sewer line, replacing two manholes and added a new manhole along Forest Avenue to address a leak discovered earlier this summer. Miller had said the Forest Avenue repairs reduced the rate of discharge, but did not appear to solve the problem.

Last month, Miller informed city officials that sewage entering the sewer system at the manhole at Sloane and Smith avenues never made it to the downstream manhole at Sloane and Clark avenues.

The biggest issue of the recent breakage was an approximately 24-inch long hole discovered about 50 feet down the clay pipe sewer line, which led to wastewater from the pipe being drained directly into the ground.

City officials were unable to test the water for more than a week after the repairs were made because the creek level was too high, according to Miller.