Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Real Poop on the WWTP

As Gossips reported yesterday, a malfunction occurred at the waste water treatment plant sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. The hose to a pump that was being used to compensate for two elements of the plant being out of commission came detached in the night, spilling an unknown amount of untreated sewage onto the ground around the plant. Department of Public Works superintendent Rob Perry suspects vandalism. John Mason tells the story in today's Register-Star: "Sewer plant victim of breakdowns, possible vandalism."


  1. If "no unauthorized person is allowed" at the facility, then where is this specified in the City Code? Where is this rule specified by statute in the inch-thick Sewer Use Ordinance?

    This is a "law" invented out of whole cloth for the occasion.

    I have visited the treatment plant unannounced since 2010, back when City workers actually welcomed you, and were eager to explain any aspect of the sewer works.

    Now, out of thin air, you "MUST request - and be granted - permission to enter the facility prior to arrival." (I suppose that "and be granted" clause of the fake rule reserves the City's right to refuse those who look too closely at the way the City conducts our affairs.)

    I used to pick up the phone and ask Cheryl Roberts questions, or sometimes inform her that she'd overlooked something. One day she said something she wasn't supposed to (okay, she did that on several occasions!), and suddenly the public had to make all inquiries to Corporate Counsel through the Office of the Mayor.

    After that, Roberts - the top City attorney - was no longer accessible by email. What was going on? The Mayor was in control of the message, if little else.

    As we see in today's story, the Friendly City is still circling the wagons against its own residents.

    But where public health and public safety are concerned, Mayor Hallenbeck, DPW Commissioner Folz, DPW Superintendent Perry, and the plant's Chief Operator Coon, are all in the wrong. They are vandalizing us.

    We'll get to the bottom of what the State law required of them, but they certainly ignored the spirit of the State's Sewage Pollution Right to Know legislation by failing to alert the public to a spill (for example, my Aldermen had no knowledge of it). Here's an introduction to the State law: and perhaps the

    Next we'll see if they complied with the Sewage Discharge Reporting Toolbox:

    Consider that boaters (like myself) were probably just exposed to raw sewage in the North Bay and in the river.

    Now this was ACTUAL RAW SEWAGE, and not the mixed, or "combined" water from Combined Sewer Overflows they've been telling us is "raw sewage" since March.

    Now why would they use the same phrase to describe different circumstances?

    In the one case, talked about since March, the City is trying to defraud the Federal government of $600,000, whereas in the current story officials evidently didn't want to call the actual raw sewage anything at all. They didn't even want to tell us about it until we asked!

    Wake up neighbors. Now is the time to get rid of all self-interested "public servants" who are demonstrable threats to the public interest.

    1. The WWTP had an open door policy before they acquired the the N Dock property.

      Funny how a 15 million (tax) dollar "upgrade" for waste treatment results the same amount of waste water and less use of "land for public use."



  2. In February (2015), I used the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to try and learn out about the City's public notification system for sewage spills.

    (The City's Sewer Ordinance may ensure "full disclosure," but when you have to FOIL its public notification program, then you know the City has problems.)

    For me, it started several years ago when I asked what the City DPW about its protocol. I was told that matter was handled entirely by the County Health Department, but when I phoned the County I was told that they rely on sewage spill alerts issued by the City.

    For years the City promised the State DEC that it was working on a notification plan. There were big plans for an informational website, and a Powerpoint presentation was in development. These hollow assurances were enough to make the DEC go away. (The back-and-forth letters between them are actually posted at the City website, and they're mind-numbing.)

    Next I asked about the Best Management Practices for CSOs at #13: "the permittee shall implement a public notification program."

    I raised the issue with the State, but the DEC's Division of Water is dysfunctional beyond words (a situation the City routinely takes advantage of).

    That's when I FOILed the City, to find any shred of evidence that Hudson has a "public notification program."

    Here was the response:

    "Public Notification: (1) Signage at CSO Outfalls (ATTACHED) and (2) broadcast to Public via the “NY Alert” System, as prescribed by Law.

    The City has two hours to report a spill to the DEC Division of Water, and four hours to alert "the public an adjoining municipalities."

    But when I phoned the staff at NY-Alert, they told me that no "issuance of alert" had been filed for this spill.

    The staffer added that it is mandatory for a municipality to report "any incident that affects a public waterway." Presumably that includes spills of unknown volumes.

    What is going on in Hudson? This warrants serious attention.

  3. Update: According to the NYSDEC, which just returned my call, the City of Hudson DPW has direct access for the purpose of posting an issuance of alert at NY-Alert, the City's only public notification system for sewage spills.

    Why has the City broken the "Sewage Pollution Right to Know" law?

    "The law requires that discharges of untreated and partially treated sewage discharges are reported by publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) within two hours of discovery to DEC and within four hours of discovery to the public and adjoining municipalities."