Keeping sewage overflow at bay in Albany

Local

Every year millions of gallons of sewage flow into the Hudson River and it’s especially bad when there’s torrential rainfall.

When heavy rains cause sewage overflow a new $8 million project will keep debris from making its way into the Hudson River but it won’t keep out the sewage.

The Hudson River may be beautiful, but it’s far from pristine. Nearby, construction is underway on a project to keep the junk out.

“Leaves and trash and plastic bottles that type of thing that would normally go through and float out into the Hudson,” Joe Coffey, Albany Water Commissioner, said.

Coffey showed us one of about a half-dozen sites where a massive cylinder, 30 feet deep, will strain out debris to be taken to the landfill.

“You’d be amazed about what gets into the combined sewers in Albany but those large  materials will be taken out at these facilities.”

In Albany, 700 million gallons of a year of sewage will still end up in the river. The system is designed to protect treatment plants from being overwhelmed by having untreated sewage bypass the plant and spill directly into the Hudson. Coffey admits it’s a concern.

“Absolutely, it does have an impact on the water quality and that’s why we’re doing these projects.”

He says the new facilities will screen out 500,000 gallons of junk a year that would have ended up in the river. Installing them will take time and drivers can expect delays and detours around the 625 Broadway garage and Quackenbush Garage as a portion of Orange Street is shut down.

“In these particular facilities we’re not disinfecting, we’re just removing some of the larger materials that are in the sewer.”

A step toward a cleaner river but a far ways off from the EPA and DEC’s 15-year goal of reducing the number of combined sewer overflows by 90 percent.

The Albany Water Department says those delays and road closures will be in place for about a month.

There will be more work to be done in the spring.

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