Sewer Information Update        [Scroll down for spill chart]  

(Reply from Executive Director Dianne Philipps and the FOIL documents for 110 spills)

 

Background: On June 24, 2005, Mayor Layne and the Board of Trustees of Airmont sent this letter to the Director of the Rockland County Sewer District No.l. Faced with reports from residents about increasing sewage overflows, their concerns were that the system on South Monsey Road was seriously undersized; that sewage overflows on 12/24/03, 12/29/03, and 9/18/03 were reported to the sewer commission "but not to the regulatory authorities as required"; and that the system’s remote overflow sensors ceased operating at the end of 1999.

Along with the health issues, there was the problem of the spills flowing into the Saddle River. And for the Board there was the "need to have an accurate understanding of these matters to make the correct decisions regarding future land use matters."

The Reply from Rockland County Sewer District #1:

In her reply, Executive Director Dianne Philipps discussed a number of spills in the Airmont area, and she also commented on the remote sensor issue. Several disturbing inconsistencies arose. Airmont residents had Sewer District documents on 10 spills in the area attained by a Freedom of Information Act request. In her comments, Director Philipps addressed a total 6 spills, and three of them had not been included in the documents returned in the FOIL request as required by law. I was told later by a Department of Environmental Control agent that the reason could have been bad record-keeping. But even if it was poor information gathering, there were still the seven major spills in the Airmont area over the last five years that the letter did not address. Four of these spills of 5,000 gal., 800 gal., 1,200 gal., and 100,000 gal. made their way into the Saddle River. The three others spilled into the streets or in the parking area and locker room of a local swim club.

The question about the sensors was restricted to a discussion about alarm systems. Philipps explained, "The telemetry system transmits alarms from our 22 pump stations to our wastewater treatment plant in Orangeburg, which is manned 24/7." She did admit "we lost some of our data gathering functions in 2000, but she did not explain the reason and the nature of the information gathering that was lost and why it is still not repaired. Does this data have an impact on the capacity of the system? Without the information, can reliable plans be made for future land use (and hookups to the system)?

The sewer system became operational in 1967 when there were 59,000 people living in the county. It was designed to serve a projected maximum population of 153,000—a number the planners thought would be reached by 1980. Now some 25 years later, with about 300,000 people in the county, we continue to add to that number with high-density developments throughout Ramapo. The question  becomes not if, but when will the system fail, and what’s that going to cost the taxpayers? 

The Larger Picture

After the Director's letter, another FOIL request was submitted by Peter Strasser, an Airmont resident. This time, he asked for all spills in Rockland County for the last five years. Mr. Strasser was looking for the missing documents that Director Philipps made reference to in her letter. He also wanted to know what was going on upstream and downstream in the system which was periodically failing in Airmont. Documents for 90 separate events were returned. A total 830,000 gallons were estimated to have backed up onto streets, into streams, a lake near a children’s camp, into businesses, a trench adjacent to Lake DeForest reservoir, and onto streets in Monsey, Airmont, Spring Valley, Chestnut Ridge, Suffern, Pomona, etc. The chart below is self-explanatory. [Updated numbers are 110 events and a total of 3,410,800 gallons spilled.]

What causes these back-ups and spills? Director Philipps says heavy rainfall and snow melts are the problem. But when you look over the chart, the reasons given in the documents break down this way:

36 from rain and snow melt

28 caused by blockage or build-up

16 by failing pumps

10 other causes.

Mr. Strasser spoke to a scientist at the Rockland Soil and Water Department and she offered a more complete explanation than the Director. Her reasons were:

1. Loss of power (pumps fail).

2. The system is undersized.

3. Ground water infiltration.

4. Illegal connections to the system.

5. Vandalism.

 

Note: Updated spreadsheet through January 2008 is available here.  Current totals: 167 spills, 4.2 million gallons. Add the
amount contested over the Cherry Lane spill, and the total is 6.7 million gallons, most in the last two years.

These 90 documents were delivered in that last FOIL application. The color code is explained at the bottom of the chart. (Amended with a second set of FOILed documents beginning with #91).

 

SEWER DISTRICT #1

 

COUNTY OF ROCKLAND

 

7/25/2005

 

FOIL report sent to Peter Strasser July 20, 2005

       
           

#

LOCATION

DATE

SPILL IN GALS.

Cause

FRESH WATER?

1

Adj. To Monsey Glen Park

Feb. 11, 2000

100,000

Problem clearing rocks in line

 

2

754 Saddle River Rd.

July 25th 2000

1200

Failed check valve on pump

Saddle River

3

754 Saddle River Rd.

August 16, 2000

800

2 pumps failed on high vibration

Saddle River

4

754 Saddle River Rd.

Dec. 7, 2000

5000

2 pumps failed valve & vibration

Saddle River

5

Washington Ave. New Square

Jan.23, 2001

500

Blockage--cause unknown

 

6

11 Sherwood Ave. S.V.

Feb. 17, 2001

50

Blockage (ongoing problem)

 

7

754 Saddle River Rd. MH10172

March 30, 2001

4200

Pump failure

 

8

754 Saddle River Rd. MH10174 

March 30, 2001

4200

Pump failure

 

9

New Hemstead Rd.

March 30, 2001

3000

Blockage--buildup silt & debris

 

10

Crikki & Lawrence

March 30, 2001

3600

Rain/groundwater infiltration

 

11

Jeffery Court-Manhole 16002

March 30, 2001

11250

Rain/groundwater infiltration

 

12

Jeffery Court-Manhole 16003

March 30, 2001

11250

Rain/groundwater infiltration

 

13

Jeffery Court-Manhole 16004

March 30, 2001

11250

Rain/groundwater infiltration

 

14

Old Mill Road, Valley Cottage

March 30, 2001

6500

Rain/groundwater infiltration

 

15

Strawtown Rd, West Nyack

March 30, 2001

12300

Rain/groundwater infiltration

 

16

Twin Lakes Lane, Monsey

April 13, 2001

30000

Pump failure

Saddle River

17

23A Pascack Plaza

April 28, 2001

350

Blockage--rags and grease buildup

 

18

24 Tara Drive, Pomona

April 30, 2001

250

Blockage--roots in pipe

 

19

Cottage Lane, Pomona

May 26, 2001

200

Two pumps failed

 

20

Strawtown Rd, West Nyack

June 17, 2001

39500

Heavy rainfall

 

21

Rt. 59, S.V.

June 23, 2001

1000

Heavy rainfall

 

22

Old Mill Road, Valley Cottage

June 29, 2001

75

Partial Blockage

 

23

754 Saddle River Rd.

Aug. 27, 2001

2000

Check valve failure

Saddle River

24

Wilder Rd. Suffern

Oct. 3, 2001

750

Failure of 2 pumps

 

25

Rt. 304/ New City

Nov. 11 & 12, 2001

150000

Blockage--grease buildup

Stream

26

Nob Hill Rd. Clarkstown

Feb. 25, 2002

?

Blockage

Lake Lucille/Hackensack R.

27

11Sherwood Ave. S.V.

March 15, 2002

1000

Blockage--grease buildup

 

28

11Sherwood Ave. S.V.

March 19, 2002

225

Blockage--grease buildup

 

29

Dutch Lane in Spring Valley

April 2, 2002

?

Leak in barrel of syphon

Pascack Brook

30

Twin Lakes Lane, Monsey

April 13, 2002

30000

Check valve failure

Saddle River

31

Dutch Lane in Spring Valley

April 19, 2002

1000

 

Fish Killed/ Sparkill Creek

32

 

 

 

 

 

33

Rt. 59, S.V.

May 1, 2002

200

Construction mistake

 

34

Dorset Rd. S.V.

June 5, 2002

750

Blockage--grease and silt

 

35

2 Camp Hill Rd. Pomona

July 19, 2002

5000

Power failure (stuck linkage)

S. Branch Creek

36

11 sherwood Ave. S.V.

July 20, 2002

1000

Blockage--grease buildup

 

37

30 Hemion Rd., Suffern

Sept. 17, 2002

2500

Blockage--grease buildup

Mahwah River

38

Willow Tree Rd., Wesley Hills

Sept. 30, 2002

200

Blockage grease and stones

 

39

Strawtown Rd. W. Nyack

Jan. 2nd, 2003

8500

Rain and snow melt

Lake DeForest Dam

40

Shady Brook Lane, New City

Feb. 23, 2003

3000

One pump failed

 

41

Lime Kiln Rd. Suffern

April 23, 2003

200

Power dip in line

 

42

Cottage Lane, Pomona

May 15, 2003

200

Pumps turned off

 

43

Hillside Ave., Airmont

June 9, 2003

1000

Blockage--odor control dish

Saddle River

44

Strawtown Rd. W. Nyack

June 22, 2003

100

Heavy rainfall

 

45

754 Saddle River Rd.

Aug. 14, 2003

400

Maybe power switch failure

?

46

Ewing Rd., S.V.

Sept. 11, 2003

700

Blockage in 8-in. line

Pascack Brook

47

New Square

Oct. 10, 2003

100

Blockage in 8-in. line

 

48

Strawtown Rd. W. Nyack

Dec.12, 2003

10000

Heavy rainfall

 

49

Strawtown Rd. W. Nyack

Dec. 24, 2003

30000

Heavy rainfall

 

50

Bethune Blvd. SV

Dec. 28 2003

1000

Blockage--exess grease

Pascack Brook

51

Pomona

Jan. 14, 2004

400

Failure of second pump

 

52

Tallman Pump Station

Jan. 24, 2004

1000

Voltage control system failure

 

53

Harvey Place, SV

May 5, 2004

50

Blockage--grease buildup

 

54

Jeffery Court,

July 23, 2004

21000

Heavy rainfall

Lake DeForest Dam

55

Rose Ave, S.V.

July 25, 2004

200

Blockage--grease buildup

Pascack Brook

56

Wilder Road, Suffern

July 30, 2004

500

Oily sludge in wet well

Mahwah River

57

Wilder Road, Suffern

August 4, 2004

200

Failed level control system

 

59

Shadybrook Lane /near 304

Sept. 8, 2004

8000

Heavy rainfall

Lake DeForest Dam

60

Jeffery Court,

Sept. 8, 2004

21000

Heavy rainfall

Lake DeForest Dam

61

Pomona

Sept. 8, 2004

200

Blockage--roots in pipe

 

62

Rt. 59, S.V.

Sept. 18, 2004

5000

Heavy rainfall

Pascack Brook

63

Pascack Rd.

Sept.18, 2004

2400

Heavy rainfall

Pascack Brook

64

S. Monsey Rd.

Sept. 18, 2004

4000

Heavy rainfall

Saddle River

65

Shadybrook Lane /near 304

Sept. 18, 2004

6000

Heavy rainfall

Lake DeForest Dam

66

Jeffery Court

Sept. 18, 2004

19000

Heavy rainfall

Lake DeForest Dam

67

Strawtown Rd., West Nyack

Sept. 29, 2004

25000

Heavy rainfall

Lake DeForest Dam

68

Cherry Lane, Airmont

Oct. 3rd, 2004

50000

Partial Blockage

Saddle River

69

Tara Drive, Pomona

Nov. 21, 2004

750

Blockage downstream

 

70

Strawtown Rd, West Nyack

Nov. 28th 2004

5000

Heavy rainfall

 

71

Harvey Place, SV

Dec. 1, 2004

200

Blockage and high flow rates

 

72

South Monsey Rd. Airmont

Dec. 17, 2003

10000

Heavy rainfall

 

73

Cherry Lane, Airmont

Oct. 3rd, 2004

50000

Blockage

Saddle River

74

Rockland County Sewer Dist. #1

March 16, 2005

2300

Sludge spill

 

75

Rockland County Sewer Dist. #1

March 31, 2005

4500

Digested sludge spill

 

76

W. Nyack/ Jeffery Court

April 2nd & 3rd 2005

19000

Heavy rainfall

 

77

Old Mill Road

April 2nd & 3rd 2005

 

Heavy rainfall

 

78

Strawtown Rd. MH 14008

April 2nd & 3rd 2005

15000

Heavy rainfall

 

79

Old Rt. 304

April 2nd, 2005

 

Heavy rainfall

 

80

Shadybrook Lane

April 2nd, 2005

 

Heavy rainfall

 

81

Strawtown Rd. MH 15117

April 2nd, 2005

 

Heavy rainfall

 

82

South Monsey Rd. Airmont

April 3rd, 2005

4500

Heavy rainfall

Saddle River

83

754 Saddle River Rd.

April 4th, 2005

5000

Heavy rainfall

Saddle River

84

Saddle River Rd, & Ramapo Lane

April 4th, 2005

3500

Heavy rainfall

 

85

Pascack Rd.

April 4th, 2005

10000

Heavy rainfall

Pascack Brook

86

King Terrace, S.V.

April 7th 2005

1000

Heavy rainfall

 

87

Valley View Rd.

April 7th 2005

 

Heavy rainfall

Pascack Brook

88

Rte 304 on the Lower Main

April 7th 2005

1000

Heavy rainfall

Sparkill Creek to Hudson River

89

Francis Place, SV

10-Apr-05

10000

Blockage (maybe sand & stone)

 

90

Francis Place, SV

18-Apr-05

3000

Blockage (maybe piece of wood)

Pascack Brook

91

Requa Lane, SV

Sept. 6, 2005

500

 

Saddle River

92

Strawtown Road on Old Mill Rd.

Oct. 8 & 9, 05

12,000

 

Hackensack River

93

South Monsey Road

Oct. 8 & 9, 05

4,000

 

Saddle River

94

Strawtown Road on Old Mill Rd.

Oct 12 & 13

4,400

 

Hackensack River

95

Saddle River Pump Station

Nov 30, 2005

10,000

 

Parking Lot and Saddle R.

96

Jeffrey Court

Dec. 16, 2005

300

  Downstream of  Lake DeForest Dam

97

Strawtown Road

Dec. 16, 2005

5,000

  Downstream of  Lake DeForest Dam

98

South Monsey Road

Dec. 16, 2005

200

   

99

Ramapo Interceptor

Dec. 16, 2005

2,400

  Pascack Brook

100

Rte. 59 BMW dealership

Dec. 16, 2005

25,000

  Pascack Brook

101

Strawtown Rd. on Old Mill Rd.

Jan. 18, 2006

3,500

  Lake DeForest Dam

102

South Monsey Road

Jan. 18, 2006

500

  Saddle River

103

Ramapo Interceptor

Jan. 18, 2006

2,000

  Pascack Brook

104

Rte. 59 BMW dealership

Jan. 18, 2006

1,000

  Pascack Brook

105

30 Hemion Road, Suffern

Jan. 24, 2006

750

Failure of pump sequence control panel Ponded nearby

106

Sherwood Avenue, Spring Valley

March 17, 2006

200

Partial blockage between manholes 1791 and 1790 apparently due to grease. Pooled in the area and seeped into the ground nearby.

107

Washington and Jefferson in New Square (manhole 9300)

June 11, 2006

3,000

Blockage Spill did enter two nearby catch basins.

108

Washington and Eisenhower in New Square (manholes 9299 and 9300)

July 25, 2006

250-500

Partial blockage

No indication that spill entered storm drains or watercourse
   109   Airmont--In a woods on Cherry Lane alongside property at 64 Cherry Lane 10 feet from the Cherry Brook
 
August 25, 26, 27, 28
(Friday to Monday),
2006
2.5 million gals.
(for how the estimate was made click here)
Vandalism--A cement block was dropped into the manhole blocking the flow Spill poured directly into Cherry Brook to Lake Oratam and eventually to the Saddle River
   110     South Monsey Road
    Also Cherry Lane and
    College Rd and Route 59
November 8, 2006 Still need FOIL reports from RCSD#1    
  Dec 24, 2003 local reports of a spill but no report from RCSD#1
 
       
  Oct 12, 2005 South Monsey Road from 8:30PM to 10:00PM
Photos taken but no report from RCSD#1
       
  Oct 14, 2005 South Monsey Road from 5:04PM to 6:45PM
Photos taken but no report from RCSD#1
       
 

 

These are documented spills in the 2nd FOIL that I believe I should have received in the first FOIL report

       
 

These were the 1st FOIL reports I received

       
   

Total

3,410, 800 gallons