February 8, 2005

Beacon has handle on sewer pipes

City will seek loan to fix lines that overflow

By Dan Shapley
Poughkeepsie Journal

BEACON -- City officials knew the problem that caused raw sewage to flood George Mansfield's basement in January was caused by sewer pipes that weren't hooked up right.

They knew storm drains had been improperly connected to the century-old sewer. And they knew when it rained hard, the old system spewed raw sewage either into the Fishkill Creek or Mansfield's basement.

They didn't know where the bad connections were.

Now they do.

In September, the Department of Transportation awarded an $8.2 million contract to repair the road and replace sewers along a 1.2-mile stretch of Route 9D. Paving Associates of Hackettstown, N.J., recently identified 874 feet of sewage pipe that was connected to storm drains. That represents 27 percent of the pipe that is to be replaced.

Spring work is planned

The road crew is to replace the line beginning in April, city Administrator Joe Braun said Monday. Beacon plans to apply for a low-interest loan to defray the project's cost.

"You can guarantee it's not the whole problem, but it's got to be a significant piece of it," Braun said.

Beacon's sewer overflow problem is common to many older communities, especially in the Northeast where infrastructure is often a century old or more. Storm water is not supposed to flow into sewers because pipes and treatment plants in many cases lack the capacity to handle the excess flow.

In November, Beacon tried to correct the problem temporarily by clamping down the manhole covers that overflowed. That backfired in January when pipe pressure built during a storm and sewage backed up into Mansfield's home and onto another nearby property.

Mansfield said the city has responded to the immediate problem. But he questioned why the problem wasn't identified and corrected years ago when the city received a $1 million grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation to identify inappropriate connections.

"I find it hard to believe that the city is so surprised about this," he said.

Beacon is awaiting data from flow meters that should identify other areas where sewer pipes are taking on storm water, Braun said.

Councilman Lee Kyriacou said the city should check its records to identify any other areas of pipe that could be connected to storm drains.

"One would think that we should be systematic about it," he said.

Copyright 2005, Poughkeepsie Journal. Reprinted with Permission.
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