Amsterdam gets $200K interest-free loan for sewer leak

City proceeding with pipe fix
The Chuctanunda Creek runs through the city of Amsterdam.
The Chuctanunda Creek runs through the city of Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM — The city of Amsterdam has been approved for a $200,000 interest-free loan from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation to repair an ongoing sewage leak into the Chuctanunda Creek at 27-31 Main St.

EFC officials confirmed the money was wired to the city Friday. 

The money will be used to fix a sewage spill that started on May 16 at 8:30 a.m. due to a rusted out pipe. According to the NY-Alert system for sewage spills, an attempt was made to put a “sleeve” over the pipe, but it was so corroded that the sleeve ended up crushing the pipe, making the leak worse.

The leak has been ongoing for more than 900 hours, but the rate of leakage has diminished from 10 gallons of raw sewage per hour in the beginning to a half-gallon per hour after a patch was applied to the leak. The leak has pumped approximately 80,000 gallons of raw sewage into the creek. 

Mayor Michael Villa said Amsterdam applied for the no-interest loan Thursday. The loan application wasn’t filed earlier because of miscommunication between the city and the state, Villa said.

Amsterdam has been dealing with an approximately $9 million budget deficit accumulated over a period of years, which has placed financial constraints on the city. The city borrowed $2 million in the form of a tax anticipation note in 2018 to ensure it had cash to maintain city business and for emergencies. 

“This is a major fix, this isn’t a dig-up-the-street and put in a pipe,” Villa said. “This pipe goes into a retaining wall with a curved elbow and that’s why we’ve known this was going to be a process. We’re waiting on piping. Everything has been ordered.”

Villa said the city has hired a contractor Perrine Construction to handle the repair work. 

“He’s been on board since day one,” Villa said of the contractor.

A copy of the city’s application for the no-interest loan includes details about the leak and the costs of the replacement project. 

According to the loan application, the leak involves the pressure main line from the city’s West Side Pump Station, which handles waste from the west side of the city. The application estimates it will take 30 days to complete the repairs.

To qualify for the loan, Villa is required to declare a state of emergency due to the leak. In a hand-written note on the application Villa indicates he called Miller at 3:40 p.m. Thursday to informally declare the emergency, with a formal declaration to be declared soon. 

This is the breakdown of the costs of the project: 
• Installation of temporary sleeve — $1,500 
• Excavation of site — $20,000 
• Installation of bypass piping — $29,000 
• Removal of steel pipes — $10,000 
• Installation of steel beam — $10,000 
• Installation of new piping — $40,000 
• Insulating new pipe — $5,000 
• Removal of bypass piping — $5,000 
• Backfilling excavation and paving — $25,000 
• Contingency costs — $29,100 
• Unknowns — $25,400  

Amsterdam has had a host of problems with its sewer infrastructure in recent years, with major sewage leaks at 216 Forest Ave. and 46 Swan St. in 2017, which resulted in millions of gallons of raw sewage leaking into the Mohawk River. That year, Amsterdam became the first New York state municipality to receive funding through the Water Infrastructure Emergency Assistance Program.  

Amsterdam currently has two active clean water projects funded through the EFC. 

The first is the City of Amsterdam’s Combined Sewer Overflow Project, financed with a $5.5 million interest-free loan plus a $1.2 million Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA) grant. This project consists of planning, design and construction of a system to improve the city’s three pumping stations, the replacement of sewer pipe, and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.
The second is a project to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment facility, financed with a $2.7 million interest-free loan plus a $900,000 WIIA grant.

Villa said he feels Amsterdam’s infrastructure problems have received more public attention than other cities in the Capital Region, such as Troy or Albany, which have faced similar issues. 

“The big picture is we have miles and miles of one-hundred-year-old infrastructure, so it’s going to break, each and every single year — it’s going to break,” Villa said. “When you have a heavy rainstorm there’s 1,000 times more [pollution] running off of farms than is going in [the water] from this. I don’t want to underplay it, but let’s not overplay it either.” 


Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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