Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Putting Hudson's Sewer Issues into Context

Riverkeeper reviewed the reports made public today about discharges into the Hudson River watershed and reports the findings: "What Happens When It Rains." Sad to say, Hudson is not alone in releasing untreated sewage into the river today. Dan Shapley of Riverkeeper comments:
The Department of Environmental Conservation estimated the need for wastewater investments at $36 billion, over 20 years, including nearly $30 billion for maintaining and improving pipes, pump stations and plants to reduce these types of overflows and failures. Riverkeeper wants to see the Governor and the State Legislature continue to close the gap in wastewater funding by significantly increasing the funding for the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and Environmental Protection Fund lines for treatment plant improvements, and non-point urban and agricultural runoff.


  1. $36 billion over 20 years is a lot of money, and Hudson's small spills are a low priority in the greater scheme of things.

    If people are interested in arriving at a balanced approach to this unsolvable problem, they're encouraged to discuss the range of mitigating alternatives towards Hudson's long-term sewer planning.

    The national CSO Control Policy requires public participation throughout the development of these long-term plans, but to date, the public has been shut out of Hudson's sewer plans.

  2. Would the swear separation project prevent what happened yesterday with the raw sewage?

    1. Referring to yesterday's spill as "raw sewage" is inaccurate, and skews your question.

      What happened yesterday is known as a COMBINED overflow, which is indeed sanitary waste, but highly diluted.

      What happened last Monday, on the other hand, which resulted from equipment malfunction, was a spill of straight raw sewage. (Now consider that the City didn't think it necessary to warn the public about that, and compare the two events.)

      So while sewer separation would prevent yesterday's overflow event, that's not the same as saying it would prevent raw sewage from entering the North Bay.

      It's in the interest of those who are hostile to the environment to conflate these terms.

  3. To follow up on unheimlich's comment, yes, the sewer separation project is meant to help with overflow events. But as was clear from yesterday's event, plenty of bad stuff will get into the North Bay anyway, which makes clear the lie that City Council is trying to tell HUD, which is funding the project: that the project has no environmental impact. By trying to pull a fast-one, the CC has jeopardized the entire project.

  4. I'm only just seeing this:

    According to the NYSDEC, among the causes of the combined sewer overflow at Hudson's treatment plant was "bar screens used to cull debris from the water were clogged" (Register-Star, 10/1).

    The City's idea is to redesign the system so that all debris is directed into the North Bay instead.