Upper Saddle River awarded
October 21, 2014
A federal court judge awarded Upper Saddle River nearly $1 million from a Rockland County sewer authority for sewage spills into the Saddle River and its tributaries, officials said.
Judge Edgardo Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the borough in a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit and late last week decided that the Rockland County Sewer District No. 1 should pay the borough about $950,000 by Dec. 31 or be fined $25,000.
The money will be used to cover Upper Saddle River's legal fees and to set up an environmental protection fund the borough will control.
The lawsuit dragged on for more than seven years, costing the borough $400,000 – even after its attorney, Michael Burke, agreed to work for half his normal rate. Burke will also be awarded $200,000 to compensate for the half-price rate. An unnamed resident will be awarded $90,000 to be placed in a special fund for environmental protection to address an adjacent section of the river, and the borough will get $265,000 to be placed in an environmental protection fund.
"The result of this litigation demonstrates that Rockland County lacks the requisite infrastructure to support developments at the Upper Saddle River border," Mayor Joanne Minichetti said. "The borough will continue to closely review the agendas of governmental boards in Airmont and Ramapo (N.Y.) as to any proposals that may impact Upper Saddle River's interests."
Dianne Philipps, executive director of the sewer district, said Monday she could not comment on the settlement because the board had not yet reviewed it.
Rockland Sewer's District No. 1 encompasses approximately 73 square miles. It collects sewage and brings it to its Orangeburg facility, where 28.9 million gallons of wastewater are treated each day.
At issue in the lawsuit were sewage overflows from Rockland's Saddle River Pump station, one of more than 20 throughout its service area. Philipps testified that the pumps at the station, on Saddle River Road in New York, need to be replaced more frequently because of their higher height, and that a new, improved pump station would cost $6 million.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit — a group of residents and the borough — reported seeing fountains of sewage coming from manhole covers and toilet paper, used tampons and excrement littering lawns and the Saddle River downstream of the pump station.
One resident said in the complaint that he and his wife have not used their back yard or cooked outside in 15 years because of the odor emanating from the river.
By ALLISON PRIES
STAFF WRITER |
CSL Vice Chairman Rockland County Sewer District #1 and a manhole explosion and raw sewage spill on South Monsey Road during a rainstorm
For More Background information on the recurring problem of sewer spills in Ramapo, check the following articles:
For a list of recent spills use this link:
The cost of the failure of sewer infrastructure will be overwhelming: