DEC OKs new sewer tie-ins in Amsterdam

Although the city still has to shell out $5,700 to the state for failings in its sewer system, Amste

Although the city still has to shell out $5,700 to the state for failings in its sewer system, Amsterdam will be allowed to make new connections to the system.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation in August proposed a moratorium on new connections to the city’s aged system after several discharges of wastewater and suspended solids flowed into the Mohawk River at levels above what’s allowed. But after discussion with the city’s engineers, the DEC agreed the city’s system can meet requirements.

That’s good news in a small city that’s striving to draw some investment and boost opportunities for residents, Mayor Ann Thane said Thursday.

“That was our point. If you’re going to say New York is open for business and then not allow any new connections, they’re sending us mixed messages at the municipal level,” she said.

According to a modified consent order dated Dec. 1, the DEC is satisfied that changes in operations made earlier this year and other adjustments led to a “reasonable conclusion that compliance can be achieved at this time.”

Addressing the need to reduce the inflow and infusion of rainwater with sewer water has been an ongoing task, Thane said. “The city of Amsterdam has steadfastly kept to a system of assessment and upgrades for the past years that I’ve been in place and we will continue to do so.”

Amsterdam earlier this month received a $600,000 grant toward upgrades for the storm and sanitary sewage systems. As in many older cities, the two different lines are at tied together in parts of the city. So during rain storms, huge amounts of rainwater from the storm water drains rush into the sewage treatment plant, which is designed to treat the smaller volume of sewage from homes and businesses. The plant is overwhelmed and untreated sewage flows into the Mohawk River.

That money won’t cure all the problems, but it will help address some issues in miles of underground lines.

“You’re really talking multi millions of dollars to get where we need to be,” Thane said.

The DEC also relieved the city of the full fine it faced for violations, staying $22,300 of the civil penalty, according to the consent order.

The fine will be stayed so long as the city provides an engineering report detailing “an expeditious schedule for ensuring continuous compliance” with limits established in the city’s permit.

Categories: Schenectady County

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