Montgomery County

Amsterdam’s South Side to see flood-control work

The floodwater protection system that saved Amsterdam’s South Side last year will get some attention

The floodwater protection system that saved Amsterdam’s South Side last year will get some attention this summer, according to the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

And, in a related development, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is commissioning work on the site expected to begin next month.

Built in 1965 under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project includes a concrete flood wall 10 feet tall running along the eastern bank of the South Chuctanunda Creek and then the south bank of the Mohawk River, ending at the Route 30 bridge.

In addition to the 3,200-foot-long wall, the system includes a series of pipes, a pumping station and a retention pond, City Engineer Richard Miller said Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a news release Monday announced the approval of work orders for several flood control projects in the state, including Amsterdam’s South Side Flood Protection Project. Work for other projects was also initiated in Rensselaer, Herkimer and Broome counties, totaling $300,000, according to the release.

Work orders for all the projects were awarded to MJ Engineering of Clifton Park, Bergmann of Rochester and Albany, LaFave of Boonville and Erdmann & Anthony of Rochester.

For the Amsterdam project, the state will cover the roughly $3,000 cost to survey the boundaries of the entire project and perform video inspection of the piping that helps transport water.

The system in Amsterdam allows stormwater to flow through the conduits and into the Mohawk River. In the event the river is swelling due to high water, the pumping station engages and forces the floodwater out of the South Side.

The state in April announced $379,000 to be directed toward the flood-control system that falls under the oversight of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Issues identified by inspectors included a broken pump station door and a busted conduit, and officials are planning to have an emergency generator installed for the pump station.

According to the recent announcement, property surveys are part of the work to comply with federal rules requiring a right of way to access the flood control projects and maintain vegetation that could cause blockages in the waterways. The system’s piping will be getting a video inspection, as well, to ensure there are no broken pipes.

“Many conduits in the flood control projects that DEC maintains are more than 40 years old. As conduits age they have potential to deteriorate, which could lead to failure during a flooding event,” the release states.

This work is in addition to another, related project being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to an email from spokesman Chris Gardner of the Corps’ New York District office.

The agency this week awarded a $703,000 contract to DiIorio Construction Corp. covering four projects in North Ellenville, Rosendale, Kingston and Amsterdam. Gardner in the email said the Corps’ initiative aims to restore flood “risk management features” to the pre-Irene level of protection.

Work in Amsterdam will include repairing bank erosion and replacing large stones, or rip-rap, that are used to hold banks in place. This work is being paid for with federal funds, Gardner said in the email.

The system protects a portion of the city’s Fifth Ward that’s seen millions of dollars invested for projects including upgrades along Bridge Street and the now-completed demolition of the former Chalmers Knitting Mill buildings.

Miller, Amsterdam’s city engineer, said he’s unsure when the flood control infrastructure last had any meaningful work done to it, as the city can’t afford it. But the 47-year-old system held its own against the forces of tropical storms Irene and Lee last year.

According to Gardner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the flood control project prevented approximately $13.6 million in damages from the two storms.

A power outage shut down the pumps in the pumping station during last year’s storms, but the excess water was held in the retention pond built as part of the system.

“It saved the South Side, let’s put it that way,” Miller said.

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