Sewer issues just keep piling up

Workers were on the scene this morning at the Cayadutta Creek off of River Street in Gloversville working on excavating the contaminated soil around the original sewer leak that was discovered last spring. (The Leader-Herald/Patricia Older)

GLOVERSVILLE — The city will likely have to spend an additional $320,500 on the East Pine Street sewer project due to contamination found on site.

Chad Kortz of C.T. Male Associates in Latham, who has been overseeing the construction spoke with the Common Council on Tuesday about how the project has been proceeding and what.

Kortz said a little over 700 of the roughly 1,000 feet of pipeline has been installed so far. He said the installed section has been inspected and tested and is ready to go. Six manholes have also been installed.

In April, a resident on River Street noticed sewage in the Cayadutta Creek. The city found the sewage was coming in from a break in the 1903 vitreous clay trunk sewer. The city has been working to replace the section of pipe from East Pine Street to roughly the Beaver Street brush drop off site. Wm. Shultz Construction out of Ballston Spa has been doing the work.

The resident, Bruce Endres, said his son discovered the leak, but that the clean up is equally as bad.

“It is definitely oily dirt. I feel like they are digging up toxic grounds,” said Endres, whose home backs up to the creek and where much of the excavation of the soil is taking place.

The thick smell of a creosote-like odor coming off the dirt piles was noticeable this morning, as workers moved backloaders around to the excavation site.

Kortz said the repair work has been a difficult project from a construction standpoint. The fact that the installation is being done under an emergency circumstance has meant that not a lot of up front investigation and engineering work could be done to see what kind of conditions contractors would be working with.

“We’ve had to do a lot of engineering and constructively analysis on the fly along with the contractor. On the whole, all of the pipe that has been installed has been installed in an excellent manner. There has been a great deal of care taken to make sure it has been installed correctly and up to our current standards,” Kortz said.

The installed section is 12 feet deep and 30 inches wide. He said the ground water in the area is very high and during construction, contractors found an abandoned 8-inch clay sewer tile that is likely the original sewer that went along the creek before the new clay pipe was installed in 1903.

“The unfortunate part of that 8-inch is that now, it was just an 8-inch conduit for ground water that was flowing full all the time,” Kortz said.

With it no longer available to transport the ground water, the water table has become an issue to deal with as well.

Storms this summer were also a challenge as workers tired to do creek crossings that were needed. To do it, the creeks had to be pumped around or partially dammed. No damage was done by the storm, but setbacks were created due to the weather.

Undone section

The project was originally supposed to be done Aug. 8, but the complete date has since been moved out to September or later.

Kortz said one more creek crossing, three more manholes and 300 feet of pipe need to be still installed. However, these sections are in the property owned by the city for the Beaver Street brush drop off and the former Twin City Leather property, which is privately owned.

Kortz said at the outset of the project, the original easements were found, which meant the city could go onto the site to take care of the issues.

Kortz said chromium, arsenic and petroleum have been discovered on the Twin City Leather property. This soil and water contamination needs to be dealt with before the city can move forward with the project.

Kortz said the contractor dug test pits and found the soil at that time.

“The chromium and arsenic are heavy metals and they need to be dealt with in a very specific way, depending on if they are in the groundwater or soils,” he said. “The petroleum is a little bit easier to deal with. It tends to be confined to one spot.”

Kortz said a petroleum spill was found very close to the edge of the creek. Kortz said the spill has been reported to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, who have given the city some basic instruction on how to contain the issue.

“Now that we are getting back there, we are going to have some more soils and groundwater we have to deal with,” Kortz said.

Kortz said the city DPW now has hazardous waste hauling permits through the state. Fulton County Landfill is able to take the contaminated soil according to Kortz. He said having the DPW haul the soil and the county landfill accept it was save some money for the project.

The city still may have more soil to remove. The contaminated soil levels were found to be “pretty high” in some areas. Kortz said some soils exceeded the DEC amount.

Kortz said in excess of 30,000 yards of cubic material would have need to be removed, but the state will allow the city to stockpile it and use it to backfill the project, so long as it stays at the Twin City site.

Kortz said the petroleum has to be removed from the site, since it contains volatile compounds that could become vapors.

“We don’t want to leave it there so it becomes a public health issue in the future, so that material will have to go to the landfill, some of it has, but it is in smaller quantities,” Kortz said.

The groundwater issues are more difficult to deal with. Kortz said that upwards of seven feet of water can be found in some areas. Additionally, this water may be contaminated with chromium, arsenic and petroleum. The water must be treated because of these possible contaminates.

Kortz said the city has two options: send it to the water treatment plant or clean it up to surface water standards and discharge into the creek. Kortz said sending it to the water treatment plant would likely be difficult to handle. In addition the plant is not set up to treat the heavy metals that would be present, so it would have to be pretreated.

Kortz said a lab analysis with DEC found that the most cost effective way to treat the water and discharge into the creek.

“It’s unfortunate that the contamination is not the city of Gloversville’s fault, it’s not C.T. Male’s fault, it’s not the contractor’s fault. This is historical, it’s been there for some time, but unfortunately we have a sewer break, we have a bypass pump that is running to the tune of $3,200 per day every day and we’ve got to find a way to replace the sewer,” Kortz said.

Kortz said there is likely less ground water now than there was in June. The upstream sewer that pumps clean water can keep contaminated water out.

Kortz said the city will need to move on the matter soon, because the project will be held up if not.

The council agreed to pass a motion to have the mayor sign a contract for $320,500 to deal with the contamination issue. The project will still be overseen by Shultz and C.T. Male.

The move will see the mayor sign an agreement with Schultz to bring in a filtration system capable of removing the contaminates from the ground water. The pricing includes set up, monthly rental, filters and demobilization.

Kerry Minor can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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