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Sewer District board making pipeline repair plans

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - Updated: 9:52 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- The June 28, 2013 Otsquago Creek flood caused far more than just visible damage in Fort Plain, compromising a buried sewer pipe connecting dozens of Fort Plain homes to the greater sewer network, Montgomery County Sanitary District Number 1.

The Montgomery County Sanitary District Number 1 Board of Directors has hired McDonald Engineering to survey the break, which Board Chairman James Post (also mayor of Palatine Bridge, one of the three municipalities including Fort Plain and Nelliston served by the sanitary district), said may have been caused by an influx of debris. 

McDonald Engineering's plans for repair of the pipeline, which runs under the Otsquago Creek in the vicinity of the destroyed 380-ton railroad bridge behind the Old Fort Plain Plaza, are 80-90 percent complete. 

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort drafted a request for proposals -- due at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 -- to hire a consulting firm to act as a middle man between the engineer and FEMA, handling the project's extensive paperwork.

Post said that while the repair project should receive 75-95 percent of a combination of FEMA and New York State government funding, the money isn't expected for a year, meaning they'll likely have to bond $400,000-$600,000 for the project (a substantial amount, considering that the Montgomery County Sanitary District Number 1's annual budget is around $500,000). 

The engineering work will comprise no more than $15,000 of the project's fee, which will be paid for up front from the contingency fund in the current sanitary district budget, potentially reimbursed at 75 percent in the future.

This is the second time that the Montgomery County Sanitary District Number 1 Board of Directors has dealt with a break in the same pipe, as the 2006 flood also caused significant damage. Following that flood seven years ago, pylons were driven into the creek bed to act as a barrier to the pipeline. The deluge, and debris, during the 2013 flood "knocked the pylons out of the way and broke the pipe," according to Post.

Currently, a second pipe is handling the sewage flow, though Post said there is concern that the 30 year old pipe could also possibly fail, given the fact that winter's conversion to spring annually causes the Otsquago Creek to rise.

He said, "We're on top of it, but yes, we are concerned because we went from two pipes to one and we've seen that it's happened twice in seven years."

If the second pipe was to fail, Post said the only option would be to create a temporary pumping station to transfer waste across the creek. The station would most likely be elevated.

Post said that work to repair and replace the two pipelines will begin this fall, the first point at which the water level will be low enough to enter the creek. The initial plan was to fix the compromised pipe during the fall of 2013, yet NYS Canal Corporation work on the locks in Fort Plain and Randall caused the Otsquago Creek to remain higher than anticipated, never allowing water levels to decrease enough for the work to commence.

When the project does begin, Post said it's likely that not only will the broken pipe be fixed, but a brand new secondary line will be installed as well. The whole parallel pipeline system will then be encased in concrete.

"If we're going to encase it in concrete, we don't want to encase a 30-year old pipe, so we might as well put a brand new one in," said Post, referring to the secondary line.

When the pipe was damaged this summer, water from the creek infiltrated the district's wastewater treatment plant, though the line has since been capped, temporarily fixing the problem of infiltration emanating from that source.

Post noted that that there is still excess water coming in from time to time at the wastewater treatment plant, although the broken pipe is not the cause. That source remains unknown.


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