An environmental advocacy group is recommending that the state provide $800 million annually for water infrastructure projects and help communities address sewer discharges into water ways.
The Environmental Advocates of New York on Thursday released an update to its 2016 report Tapped Out: New York’s Clean Water in Peril. The organization analyzed DEC data to conclude that from May 2013 to July 2017, more than 3.8 billion gallons of sewage were discharged into waterways. This was the result of 10,687 system overflows, according to a news release.
“When there’s heavy rain in New York state, you can place bets that somewhere in New York, there’s going to be sewage that spill over into waterways,” said Liz Moran, water and natural resources director for The Environmental Advocates.
Communities across the state have old infrastructure with combined stormwater discharage and wastewater pipes. The system gets overwhelmed during storms.
The organization also recommended that the DEC provide funding so local communities can monitor sewage discharges and to increase staff at the state agency.
In a positive sign, the group reported that communities are being more transparent about these spills. The number overflows being reported increased from 1,611 in 2015 to 4,080 in 2016. There have been 2,481 as of July 2017, according to the report.
Moran, who wrote the report along with Clean Water Fellow Elizabeth Bourguet, said they believe there is still significant underreporting of these events.
One-third of the reports state that the volume of sewage spilled was zero, or they leave the column blank.
During the months of September, October and November, Glens Falls had one incident on Oct. 8 when 11,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed into the Hudson River and one on Oct. 24 when 21,000 gallons discharged into the river, according to the DEC database.
In Hudson Falls, there was an incident on Sept. 3, when 1,000 gallons of untreated sewage was discharged into the Hudson River at 7 Bridge Street. On Oct. 9, a total of 10,000 gallons flowed into the river. On that same date, 1,000 untreated sewage and 1,000 gallons of partially treated sewage flowed into the river from 17 Cortland Ave. in Fort Edward.