This is a follow up to the Riverkeeper finding that the city may be discharging sewage, or recently discharged, into the river from a storm water outlet. We are still working on tracking down the potential cause and I will report back in a few days with more information and with the findings of the water tests. It is possible that the extremely heavy rains from the last two major storms may have caused damage to the lines going throughout the city.
In general, the more long standing issue of reducing unwanted storm water into our sewer lines, which over burdens our sewage treatment plant and causes sewer lines to backup in neighborhoods during heavy rain events, is called “inflow and infiltration”, or I & I. When the city was first built both sewer and storm drain lines were together, so buildings emptied their storm water into sewage lines. Today that is an illegal hookup. So this not a new problem caused by either this administration or any that preceded ours. But it is our responsibility to resolve.
The problem of I & I is being actively perused by the city, and here are some examples…. We believe we resolved a serious sewage overflow at a manhole cover in the Madam Brett Park, during regular heavy rain events, by clearing out the sewer line – we discovered it was heavily clogged by silt and some large sized debris. To identify illegal hookups we are smoke testing every neighborhood’s residential and commercial building. We passed new legislation that added to existing laws to require inspections to identify and resolve illegal hookups of commercial properties, before the planning board will grant an approval. We replace old sewer and storm water lines when reconstructing roads, if the budget permits. In a few cases we dug up roads for the purpose of replacing old and insufficient storm water and sewer lines. We partnered with the Hudson River Clearwater who obtained a grant to study ways the land at our municipal parking lots can absorb rainwater to reduce runoff into the storm drains, and to encourage rain barrels for residential homes. Lastly, to fully study the I & I issue throughout the city, and for new developments to obtain county approvals, we hired a specialty engineering firm to assess the capacity of our sewer lines to flow into the sewage treatment plant – we are very satisfied with their abilities and the mapping they have done to identify problem areas.
To resolve the issue completely will take a lot more digging and replacing throughout this old city. I & I is a problem in every Hudson River city and for every old municipality throughout the northeast. It will cost a great deal of money to solve, but we are taking it on one step at a time and give it a high priority. The city is committed to a clean Fishkill Creek and Hudson River.