By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Both problems and progress with the Cold Spring water infrastructure drew attention last week when the Village Board heard of abnormal dumping of wastewater effluent into the Hudson River and of a separate, dramatic decrease in unaccounted-for water flowing through local pipes. At the Nov. 9 board meeting, Mayor Seth Gallagher also reported another bit of good news, a step forward in efforts to re-line the large water main that runs from the water treatment plant along Main Street through Nelsonville into Cold Spring.As part of his written monthly report, Wastewater Department
Superintendent Gregory R. Phillips stated that a “`non-compliance’ event” occurred on Oct. 1, “as heavy rains resulted in inflow and infiltration [I and I] of our collection mains, causing a temporary hydraulic overload to the treatment facility.” That meant that for a short time, discharge from the wastewater plant, a sort of chocolate-milky-looking liquid, contained more solids, measured in milliliters per Liter (mL/L), than allowed under the permit from the State of New York. “Our permit requires that the effluent — treated water entering the receiving stream — have no greater than 0.3 mL/L of settleable solids,” Phillips subsequently told Philipstown.info in an e-mail. On Oct. 1, the level exceeded 0.3 mL/L, “an event that was not in compliance with our permit,” he stated. Water officials immediately notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation of the condition of the effluent. Phillips added, “Is it raw sewage — no.”
The mayor offered an unofficial shorthand explanation of what happens in such cases: “Basically the amount of water causes mostly treated wastewater to be released into the river before the treating process is complete.” Blame the weather. “When we have heavy rain, storm water is entering the sanitary sewer collection system through the process of inflow — directly piped into the system — or infiltration — seeping through cracks, pipe joints, separations” and similar venues, Phillips said. “When this I-and-I enters the system, it can inundate the wet well, [the] location where raw flow is gathered to be pumped into the treatment system.” While the raw-water pumps can handle the extra volume by ramping up speed, the clarifier, involving an area where treated waste settles away from the effluent, “wants to see steady, uniform flow,” Phillips said. When things get out of synch, difficulties can arise. Phillips advised the mayor and trustees that the Oct. 1 incident “continues to point to the need for locating and abating the sources of the I and I.”
In his capacity as Water Superintendent, Phillips also reported advances in addressing another ongoing concern, “unaccounted-for water. That is to say, water that has been treated and sent to the distribution system but has not shown up at water meters.” In the first quarter of the year, the unaccounted-for water figure was about 35 percent, Phillips said. The second quarter figure was about 24 percent, but “third quarter results are even more significant, as we have breached the 20 percent mark, winding up at 17.8 percent.”
“That’s much, much better,” Gallagher said. “That’s quite a substantial change.” Citing another positive development, Gallagher said the Main Street pipe re-lining has been officially listed by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC,) which provides low-cost capital and expert technical assistance to municipalities, businesses and state agencies for environmental projects, including those involving water supplies. “It’s kind of low in the listing, but being on there itself is a good thing,” he said. “I’m going to be looking into ways we can move our ranking up and also what the possibilities would be even at this point as far as financing that project.” The EFC provides grants but also can help a village obtain low interest on bonds. A major water-infrastructure study released in May described the need for improvements to that pipe, as well as many others in the Cold Spring water system. Installed in 1894-95, the aging water system serves Cold Spring, Nelsonville, and parts of Philipstown.
Dealing with a last water-related matter, the mayor said that the village has finalized easement agreements with Faust Court property owners in North Highlands, so that “we will always have access to that dam now” on the uppermost reservoir.