Schenectady County

Town water woes persist with new break

Rotterdam’s water woes are far from over.


Rotterdam’s water woes are far from over.

Late Monday, the water main broke again, just hours after workers thought they had completed their two-day emergency repair.

A police officer driving by the site on Princetown Road saw water bubbling up onto the road, police said. By 10:30 p.m., Highway Superintendent James Longo was investigating the break. It was not yet clear how difficult the repair would be.

Whether or not it is repaired overnight, the news means that Rotterdam will still be on a boil-water advisory today. Almost the entire town has been forced to boil drinking water since the Princetown Road water main broke on Saturday.

Longo said Saturday’s break was the worst he’d seen in all his years working with the town. He said the 20-inch pipe is among the many in Rotterdam that are more than 50 years old and now starting to show age.

The busted main was repaired early Monday morning, leading officials to hope that the town’s water pressure would be back to normal today. That may no longer be the case.

Nearly all of the town’s water tanks were emptied as a result of the first break, which left hundreds of homes without any water and thousands more with hardly any water pressure.

“All five of our tanks were almost totally drained,” Longo said.

As a result, water in Rotterdam became a scarce commodity over the weekend. Princetown Road resident Kevin March, one of the many who endured a weekend without water, had to drive to a McDonald’s on Altamont Avenue to find a bathroom to use before heading to bed Sunday evening.

“I had to run halfway across town to find a working bathroom,” he said. March was critical of both the outgoing Town Board —all five members — and the incoming administration for not being more vocal when so many residents were affected. He wondered why neither board seemed eager to have a say during the break.

“Nobody has anything to say when nobody has water on Christmas weekend,” he said.

March was also among the many that also didn’t receive the initial boil-water advisory from the rapid notify system privately contracted by Schenectady County. The system calls all affected residents with a recorded alert message, provided they have a listed phone number.

Likewise, Patty Miner of Careleon Road said she didn’t receive notification about the water issues and was perplexed by the sudden drop in pressure. She wasn’t able to reach the town’s Water Department on Sunday and only learned of the break by calling the Rotterdam police.

“It’s very frustrating when you’re totally in the dark,” she said.

The system often doesn’t reach residents using cell phones or those with unlisted numbers, explained John Nuzback, the county’s acting emergency management director. He said these residents likely didn’t receive any of the three alerts issued throughout Rotterdam over the weekend.

Nuzback plans to work with the company early next month to help bring some of the county’s unlisted numbers into the system. He said these people can subscribe to the rapid notify system while keeping their unlisted numbers confidential.

“That way, their number isn’t published, but we have it for our database,” he said.

The news of the second break came just as officials were predicting that all would be well. The town had already passed one drinking water test Monday afternoon and was hoping to lift the boil-water advisory after one final test this morning.

In total, there were two pipes that broke over the weekend. A much smaller rupture was discovered on a six-inch main in Colonial Manor, but Collins said the leak could have formed days before the much larger break.

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