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19 more reasons NY lawmakers should go big on clean water investments

Monhegan Brook sewage overflow

Sewage overflows, such as this suspected overflow in the Monhegan Brook, a Wallkill River tributary in Middletown, are common in the Hudson River Watershed during rain. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)
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When it rains, it pours sewage. If lawmakers finalizing the budget need any more reasons to go big on new investments in water infrastructure, the recent rains provided them.

Below is a quick accounting of sewage overflows reported by communities in the Hudson River Watershed since Thursday, thanks mostly due to the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law, and the public reporting through NY-Alert it requires. As long a list as this is, it’s likely that several communities did not report, as combined sewer systems are in use in Poughkeepsie, Catskill, Hudson*, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Glens Falls, Utica and elsewhere in the Hudson River Watershed, and it’s possible or even likely that rain and snowmelt in these places resulted in overflows that have not been reported. Other communities have infiltration and inflow problems that result in overflows even from separate sewer systems, and we can only hope that all overflows were reported as the law requires.

Even without those, 19 communities in the Hudson River Watershed reported discharges of raw sewage in the last 48 hours. These are 19 communities that need to invest in fixing pipes, pump stations and treatment plants – 19 more reasons New York lawmakers in the late stages of budget negotiations should go big on clean water infrastructure investments.

Not for nothing, April 1 is the start of fishing season in New York.

*Since we first published this blog, Hudson reported two overflows on Friday, March 31, totaling an estimated 720,000 gallons, making it the 20th Hudson River Watershed in recent days.

Sewage overflows, such as this suspected overflow in the Monhegan Brook, a Wallkill River tributary in Middletown, are common in the Hudson River Watershed during rain. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

New York Harbor

New York City – The city’s nearly 500 combined sewer overflows were discharging from Friday into Saturday, including those affecting Bergen Basin, Bronx River, Flushing Bay, Flushing Creek, Fresh Creek, Gowanus Canal, Head of Bay, Hutchinson River, Newtown Creek, Paerdegat Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Shellbank Basin, Spring Creek, Thurston Basin and Westchester Creek.

Hudson River

Capital District – Virtually every one of nearly 100 combined sewer overflow pipes in the six communities that discharge into the “Albany Pool” were reported to be discharging Friday and into Saturday. Troy reported overflows estimated at 5,000 gallons per minute from its combined sewer overflows.

Yonkers – Overflows reported at Yonkers of 700,000 gallons and 140,000 gallons Friday, March 31.

Newburgh – Combined sewer overflows into the Hudson and the Quassaick Creek, estimated at 5,000 gallons per minute since about 7 a.m. Thursday, March 30, and continuing through Friday.

Kingston – Combined sewer overflows into the Rondout Creek near its confluence with the Hudson River, estimated at 500 gallons per minute, started Thursday and continued through Friday.

Cornwall-on-Hudson – Sewer clog Thursday, March 30, resulting in overflow of 15 gallons-per-minute into the Moodna Creek just upstream of its confluence with the Hudson River. On Friday, stormwater inundation resulted in a second overflow, estimated at 20 gallons per minute.

Fort Edward – About 2,000 gallons of sewage was discharged untreated as the treatment plant reached capacity, and the treatment process was bypassed on Thursday; another 1,000 gallons was released Friday, March 31.

Wallkill River

Middletown – The City of Middletown’s sewer system reached capacity Friday, March 31, due to infiltration and inflow, and bypassed treatment with direct discharges estimated at 25 gallons per minute, a second overflow estimated at 50 gallons per minute, and a third first estimated at 25 gallons per minute and later estimated at 200 gallons per minute, all three into the Monhegan Brook, a tributary of the Wallkill, on Friday, March 31.

Walden – The Village of Walden’s lift station failed, resulting in an overflow into the Tin Brook, a tributary of the Wallkill River, estimated at 75 gallons per minute on Friday, March 31.

Mohawk River

Oneida County – Sewer overflow of nearly 1,500 gallons per minute on Monday, March 27, caused by the failure of a pump station that couldn’t keep up with stormwater inflow and infiltration, resulting in an overflow into the  Sauquoit Creek, a Mohawk River tributary near Utica.

Village of Fort Plain – An failed pump station overwhelmed by stormwater resulted in overflow estimated at 16,200 gallons into the Mohawk River on Friday, March 31.

Village of Palatine – An overflow at a pump station resulted in an estimated overflow of 30,000-45,000 gallons into the Mohawk River on Friday, March 31.

City of Schenectady – A sewer backup Friday, March 31, resulted in overflow estimated at 20 gallons per minute of raw sewage affecting the Mohawk River, and a second early on Saturday, April 1, resulted in a flow estimated at 500 gallons per minute.

These come on top of the estimated 10-gallon-per-minute spill from the City of Amsterdam’s sewer system into the North Chuctanuda Creek, a tributary of the Mohawk River. That spill has been ongoing for months.

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