HUDSON — The city received a $1.4 million grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation as part of a water quality improvement project program.
Hudson City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to authorize Mayor Kamal Johnson to enter into an agreement with the Department of Environmental Conservation to help pay for the construction of a combined sewer separation system and the sewer repairs on Front Street.
The council vote authorizes and appropriates an additional $350,000 from the Department of Public Works sewer fund as a local matching requirement for the program.
“I’m thrilled,” said Rob Perry, superintendent of the Hudson Department of Public Works.
The project was originally proposed in 2014 when the city received $600,000 as part of a community development block grant. After a three-year environmental review, lack of additional funding delayed construction.
The project now has an end in sight.
Once the mayor accepts the water quality improvement project grant, the process to repair the Hudson sewer system will resume.
Johnson expressed urgency on the matter, telling the Common Council that clearance must be granted quickly.
When it rains, runoff from the city goes into the same pipes that carry sewage. Combined sewage and storm water is sometimes discharged directly into the Hudson River. Many river communities across the country face similar problems of unintentional water pollution due to old sewage systems.
“You have to understand that when the city was built, the Clean Water Act didn’t exist,” Perry said.
The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972 and its purpose is to regulate water pollution and ensure the biological integrity of the nation’s water systems.
The new sewer system proposed by the city will separate waste from rainwater. It will send clean, filtered rainwater to the Hudson River and ensure that wastewater is consistently sent to a separate treatment plant for treatment.
Perry described the Hudson sewer system using the term “combined sewer overflow”.
When a city’s stormwater and domestic sewage are combined into a single pipe, in theory, all of the sewage should end up in the treatment plant. However, during heavy rains, the sewage can sometimes exceed the capacity of the station. This causes sewage to overflow into the nearby Hudson River. Sometimes the dump goes into Underhill Pond and the North and South Bays.
Soon, the City will launch a call for tenders to find qualified companies to carry out repair work on the sewer networks.
The city could accept a business by February and receive short-term funding by March, Perry said. Construction will begin in the spring and end in the fall. All construction work on the project is expected to be completed this year.
Construction will involve the complete excavation of Front Street from Columbia Street to State Street. Contractors will expose and remove the existing 6 foot high stone arched sewer and add two plastic main pipes to separate sewage and rainwater.
Once this operation is complete, the construction team will have to separate the dozens of combined sewers in the city. This last step will take longer.
“Two hundred years later, we’re still dealing with the same infrastructure,” Perry said. “This is an essential step towards the long-term goal.”