Ossining-Croton: Avoid Contact with Hudson

Croton & Ossining residents should continue to avoid contact with the Hudson River due to sewage discharge.

While the big news is the at Horan's Landing in Sleepy Hollow, it doesn't make for much of a visual.

The sewage, thankfully, is undetectable from the shore.

One Patch reader, and one news station, did comment on a reddish/purplish tint to the water a bit downstream, which DEF worker Joe Hecker said "has nothing to do with this, that must be something else."

Meanwhile, where the big visuals were at: a crew has been tearing into a parking lot just off South Broadway on Leroy Avenue, where the cause of all this trouble began.

On Tuesday morning, county officials say sewage started coming out through a hole that opened in the pipe running inside in the Old Croton Aqueduct, buried below this doctor's office parking lot. Men have been there ever since, day and night, trying to access this area, cut into the 30-inch diameter pipe, replace it with a new section, and finally secure it with a concrete bridge. 

They were still at it last night when I took these pictures after 7 p.m. And they planned to stay on for however long it took to finish the job; they hoped that would be soon. I could see the the century-old aqueduct tunnel with its brickwork arch inside of which would run the big pipe they were about to start fitting into the gaping hole. 

As of 10 a.m. Friday, DEF Superintendent of Maintainence Joe LaBella reported that the repair work had been completed at the Leroy site. By around 3 or 4 a.m. Friday morning, he said the concrete had been poured over the pipe and they were just now waiting for it to set enough to put the system back online and get the Tarrytown pump station operable again.

You may remember that Ossining has a similiar problem this time last year. To watch that video report click here.

LaBella anticipated that by this afternoon the main line would be back in order and the sewage could continue following its proper path — ultimately to the treatment plant in Yonkers — rather than to the river. 

Today's rain, said LaBella, wouldn't affect the concrete curing, as the Leroy Avenue site is covered. 

DEF Commmissioner Joe Lauro, who happens to be a Tarrytown resident, more finely estimated that the pump station should be up by noon today, and the sewage should stop flowing into the Hudson by 1 p.m.

The workers wouldn't permanently patch the hole though, said Lauro, until the system is confirmed to be working correctly, so he expected this final work would happen on Saturday.

As far as exactly replacing the elaborate brick work on the ancient aqueduct, that won't happen. Lauro said they have to worry about structural integrity of the system, especially when it has cars going over it. "We have a repair designed just for this type of incident, which unfortunately we've done before." 

Lauro cited three sewer line breaks since 2010 in Tarrytown on this main force line that he said clearly needs to be replaced, which the county is working on a design for now. "The events seem to be accelerating right now," he said. "It needs to go." 

The county owns and maintains this main pressurized "force" line as well as the "trunk" lines connecting the village-owned lines to the pump station. Property owners own their sewer lines to the sidewalk. The villages own the gravity lines from sidewalk to the county trunk lines, which in turn connect to the village pump station. From here, the force line is able to push the partially-treated waste uphill, following the aqueduct for a stretch, and route 119, and finally the Saw Mill Parkway to the Yonkers treatment plant.

Whether the Ironman triathlon event involving swimming in the Hudson gets postponed in NYC this weekend has yet to be determined. DEF Commissioner said the original Health Department water advisory still stands, which only went to points as far south as Yonkers, where a smaller amount of discharge is also entering the river because of this Tarrytown break. People are cautioned to avoid all recreational activities in the Hudson until further notice.

At Horan's Landing, the men positioned here since early morning Wednesday are just basically monitoring a hose going into the open manhole, pumping chlorine into the waste passing below. At times there's been the unmistakable odor of feces when you stand over the hole, but this morning it had "more of a pool smell now," said Hecker. This is from the chlorine, both liquid from the truck and powder from buckets, that goes regularly into the open outflow pipe. The chlorine would burn through your hand, Hecker said, but gets quickly diffused in the river.

Hecker complained about misreporting from Fox 5 news that said their truck was pumping millions of gallons of sewage into the Hudson. "That's not coming from us," he said. 

On Thursday both the County Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation visited Horan's Landing to monitor the DEF workers, test the water and make sure the standard amount of chlorine was going in. Test results reportedly won't be back until this afternoon for an update on the water advisory. The two inches of rain we're expecting to get won't help with the cleanliness of the water though, said Hecker.

Commissioner Lauro said though there's no water conservation advisory in effect due the sewer line break, "people should always try to conserve water." Every drop of water that you use in your house, from dishwasher and sink to toilet and washing machine, all gets outputted through the sewer system. "It's a finite substance," he said. 


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