Environmental Engineer Offers Warning to Planning Board

Airmont

Ronald Glisci appeared before the June 16 meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Airmont. Mr. Glisci is an environmental engineer who personally designed a good portion of the Hicksville sewage collection district in Nassau County as well as the Southwest Sewer District in Suffolk County, Long Island. What he had to say about the presently increasing sewer overflows in the Village and the surrounding area was not comforting.

You can read a transcript of his entire presentation here. The extracts below will give you an overview:

"Based on the information I have seen so far, the sanitary sewer system running eastward from S. Monsey Road appears to be seriously undersized for the existing flow rate.

It has been carefully documented, with photographs and detailed record keeping, that raw sewage is chronically sprayed from a manhole at this location, all over the roadway and adjacent areas. This raw sewage then flows by gravity to a nearby brook, which empties into the Saddle River. A similar problem has also been documented in the Hillside Avenue area.

This condition cannot be tolerated. Raw sewage contains pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria and other organisms, which have the potential to create a serious public health hazard.

When the sewer system is designed, expected wastewater flow rates are calculated, based on the land use at the time of the design, or on expected future land use. Based on these flow rates calculated, the slope and size of the sewer pipe are determined.

If a sewer is serving a residential street zoned for one house per half acre, the expected flow contribution from that parcel is calculated based on the expected number of people that can reasonable be expected to occupy that residence. Typically you might use 3.7 people per household, times a design flow of say, 200 gallons per capita per day. This is how sewers are sized.

Now, suppose after the system is designed, the land use is changed to allow the construction of an apartment building, or school, or more houses per half acre, or more people per household, or other structures that generate a larger peak sewage flow rate. That sewer line has now become undersized.

If the trunk sewer leaving the manhole at S. Monsey Road is indeed now undersized, any additional flow contributed to the sewer system UPSTREAM of this point will increase the likelihood and frequency at which this manhole sprays sewage into the Saddle River.

It is likely that the flow in the trunk sewer leaving the manhole on S. Monsey Road may be backing up to that point from already overloaded systems downstream of that point, in the Monsey area. As downzoning and over development continue there, there will be nowhere for our wastewater to go except into the Saddle River. The cost for additional sewers or modifications to handle the increased flow could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

We therefore need to implement a moratorium on all high-density and multi-family usage of residential property in the town of Ramapo until we complete a detailed engineering study, involving looking at the original sewer design flow rates, measuring the existing flow rates, and calculating future expected flow rates to determine exactly how much it will cost the taxpayers to install additional sewer lines to accommodate the additional flow.

This will also reduce any potential liability of the Village of Airmont and the Town of Ramapo for knowingly ignoring the environmental consequences of discharging raw, untreated sewage into public waterways and contaminating a drinking water aquifer.

The time to start this project is now. The place to start is the very next site plan you are asked to review."

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A View of the Problem from the Street

“We also witnessed similar occurrences on the service road next to the Upper Saddle River Swim & Tennis Club on two separate occasions with all the waste dumping into East Saddle River and flowing into New Jersey. The most recent one occurred over the downpour we had at the beginning of this month (Apr 2005) and I have supplied photos of the aftermath showing a distribution of decontamination white powder into the East Saddle River. There was plenty of raw sewage left on the road by evidence of all the toilet paper debris.”

Peter J. Strasser

Airmont Resident