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What you need to know for 08/20/2017

Amsterdam still leaking sewage into creek

Amsterdam still leaking sewage into creek

Amsterdam’s ailing sewer system along the Forest Avenue pipeline continues to leak untreated sewage
Amsterdam still leaking sewage into creek
Water flows over limestone potholes in the North Chuctanunda Creek in Amsterdam in this 2015 photo. The city of Amsterdam is still leaking sewage into the creek because of a faulty pipe.

Amsterdam’s ailing sewer system along the Forest Avenue pipeline continues to leak untreated sewage into the North Chuctanunda Creek.

The Department of Environmental Conservation said a leak from July 25 to Aug. 22 dumped an estimated 2 million gallons of untreated sewage before it was fixed. The leak was due to a broken section of pipe along Forest Avenue that workers managed to bypass, but Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa said problems along the line continue to persist.

City officials recently reported a leak to the DEC that occurred on Oct. 19 and is continuing at an estimated 10 gallons of untreated sewage per minute. Villa said while the line has leaked at varying rates since the end of July, city engineers believe a recently discovered 50-foot section of collapsed pipe along Sloane Avenue is the primary source.

“They’re confident now that this location is the cause of concern,” said Villa.

City Engineer Richard Miller did not return a request for comment.

Villa said city crews had been using dye as well as remote cameras to determine the source of the leak. The Sloane Avenue pipe is clay, he added, and at least 90 years old.

In early August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the DEC and the Environmental Facilities Corp. to assist Amsterdam in identifying the source of the leak along Forest Avenue.

A DEC spokesman said the agency is monitoring the situation as well as offering expertise. The agency estimated the Oct. 19 leak has so far dumped about 400,000 gallons of untreated sewage.

The North Chuctanunda Creek feeds directly into the Mohawk River.

“Obviously whenever a sewage leak like this happens anywhere it’s a cause for concern and that’s why we work quickly with the municipality that’s responsible for the pipes,” said DEC spokesman Sean Mahar.

Villa said the repair process on the collapsed Sloane Avenue pipe is being hampered by National Grid, who he said are having trouble locating a gas line in the area. The city does not have a timeline for when the leak will be fixed, he said.

“It all depends on National Grid, the last thing you want to do is dig into a gas line,” said Villa.

In December 2013, Amsterdam experienced a massive spill that dumped 24 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Mohawk River from two pumps over the span of eight days, according to the DEC. That event led to the agency requiring the city to abide by a series of deadlines through 2017 to overhaul its sewer system or face penalties.

Officials in Amsterdam previously said the funds for that overhaul are coming from a $5 million NYS Environmental Facilities Corp. loan, but that work on the overhaul won’t begin until next year.

Villa has stressed that sewer infrastructure issues are not unique to Amsterdam and that the city needs continued financial assistance to complete repairs.

DEC spokesman Kevin Frazier in an email Friday that the agency will continue to partner with officials in Amsterdam “to identify potential sources of financial assistance for necessary upgrades to the city’s infrastructure to ensure clean water for this community.”

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