Fulton County

Gloversville anticipating future sewer woes

Cost of repairs now an estimated $1.7 million
Workers construct a cofferdam on the Cayadutta Creek in Gloversville on April 25, 2017.
Workers construct a cofferdam on the Cayadutta Creek in Gloversville on April 25, 2017.

Officials in Gloversville are going after a pile of state and federal money to help pay for existing and anticipated sewer problems that first came to light in April. 
“I think it’s always better to be proactive with these things,” Mayor Dayton King said.
On April 20, a sewer main broke at a creek crossing behind 199 S. Main St., causing raw sewage to reach Cayadutta Creek. Officials initially planned to install a liner system inside the pipe to circumvent the break, but after finding another break further up the line decided to replace the pipe altogether. 
City officials said tree roots infiltrated the sewer main and have caused the breaks. 
The cost of the work ballooned from an estimated $1 million to $1.7 million. Common Council members recently voted to hire Schultz Heavy Civil Construction for the job, which is expected to wrap up in early August, according to King. 
King and other city officials hope to secure a grant and 0 percent interest loan from the state Environmental Facilities Corp. The grant will cover 25 percent of the $1.7 million tab, with the remainder coming from the zero interest loan. 
The idea, said King, is for the city to avoid dipping into its $6 million in reserve funds. 
“With 0 percent, we’d take the longest payback we can get,” said King, adding that ideally the city would secure a five- to 10-year payback period on the loan. “We’re prepared to pay if we need to. We’ve been saving up for years.”
The city hired grant writer Nick Zabawsky to help with the grant and loan applications with the EFC. If secured, he said, both pieces of funding would be paid to Gloversville retroactively, meaning the work would be paid for by the city up front. 
Zabawsky said the city is also working to secure Community Development Block Grants through New York State Homes and Community Renewal to deal with future sewer infrastructure problems that are expected.
“You’ve got a 100-year-old-plus system, and we’ve have one major break, so when’s the next one going to happen?” Zabawsky asked. “It could be a month, could be a year.” 
The grants would provide $750,000 annually to the city to be spent on public works projects, but must be applied for annually. While administered through Homes and Community Renewal, money for the Community Development Block Grants is supplied by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Zabawsky pointed out that Gloversville is not unique in having to confront sewer problems that have long been deferred; the city’s sewer main break occurred on a pipe that’s estimated to have been 117 years old. 
For the last several years, the nearby city of Amsterdam has battled numerous sewer breaks and combined sewer overflows because of equally aged sewer pipes. Amsterdam has applied for and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal assistance, and is poised to embark on a $5 million overhaul of their sewer system. 
Both King and Zabawsky said in the coming months Gloversville will be assessing how bad a shape the city’s sewer system is in. 
“We’re identifying the sewers as one of the most critical issues,” Zabawsky said. “The engineers are out identifying right now which lines are in the most perilous conditions.” 
King said he’s recommending assessing the sewer lines using a camera that is run through the mains and pipes to identify trouble areas. Zabawsky agreed with that recommendation, and said the city will likely look to target specific areas of the sewer system as assessing the entire system is cost-prohibitive.  
“I think a comprehensive analysis is called for. … Doing the whole city is ridiculously expensive,” Zabawsky said. “But if you run a camera through the main lines and problem areas, you’re talking tens of thousands of dollars as opposed to millions.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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