Billions Of Sewage Waste Seeps In Ny Rivers

07.29.13 | Bob Price

          Overflows of combined storm water and human waste from municipal sewer plants occur often after heavy rains into big rivers like the Hudson, Mohawk and Niagara as well as smaller tributaries and other waterways.
          A storm July 19 knocked out the sewage treatment plant in Niagara Falls, sending more than 100 million gallons of wastewater into the Niagara River.  Plant shutdowns and broken pipes among aging systems can dump less frequent but more concentrated human wastewater from toilets, showers, laundry drains and factories.
          The law effective May 1st requires municipal plant operators to notify health officials within two hours of a spill and the public within four hours. But that's not happening yet.
          The Department of Environmental Conservation has received 447 reports of releases of untreated or partially treated sewage since May 1st under the new right-to-know law.                           
          The DEC, which has estimated $36 billion is needed over the next 20 years to repair and upgrade sewer systems at 643 municipal treatment plants, already posts wet weather advisories at sewer system outflows, pipes and culverts that flow into waterways. The alerts caution people that raw sewage with harmful bacteria may be in the water during or after heavy rain or snowmelt.