Recorder News Staff

Electrical problems were blamed again for the Amsterdam’s Swan Street pump station spilling more untreated sewage into the Mohawk River.

The discharge from the eastside pump station reportedly began at midnight Tuesday and continued for approximately 48 hours, with a total of 56,801 gallons of untreated sewage discharged, according to information reported through NY-Alert. It is unknown if public areas were impacted from the discharge into the Mohawk River.

An electrical fault reportedly led to the discharge and an electrical technician was on-site troubleshooting the issue, according to city officials. The pumping equipment and controls are scheduled to be replaced at the pump station through a planned upgrade project.

Mayor Michael Villa said the alarm did not trigger to restart the pump during the incident. Villa believed the issue had been rectified for the short term, but the long-term solution will be installing new equipment.

“That equipment is decades old and needs replacing — the sooner the better,” Villa said. “We just can’t wait to get these pump stations done.”

Villa said City Engineer Richard Miller contacted McDonald Engineering to evaluate if the pump station will be stable until equipment is upgraded. The renovation project is expected to begin early next year, according to Villa.

He said repairs are planned for the eastside pump station using funds from the $5 million awarded by the state earlier this year. The assistance includes a $1.25 million grant from the state Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and a zero interest loan totaling $3.75 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

The latest incident marks the fourth discharge of untreated sewage blamed on electrical problems at the pump station this year. Wastewater Treatment Chief Plant Operator Gene Hutchings had said since he started working for the city, he believed the only power outages at the station have been what has occurred this year.

The latest sanitary sewer overflow lasted longer but was less severe than a discharge at the same pump station Dec. 20, which began around 1 a.m. and lasted for almost six hours. A power failure was blamed for the Dec. 20 overflow spilling 1,061,947 gallons of untreated sewage into the river.

A National Grid representative had said there was no record of a power outage occurring that day in Amsterdam, with the company unaware the sewer plant had a power outage.

Hutchings had been unsure exactly what caused the apparent power outage at the station, but he said there could have been a brief power surge leading to the pump failure.

Two days after, on Dec. 22, the same pump station discharged another 714 gallons of untreated sewage over a half hour. Pumping equipment faulting was blamed for the Dec. 22 incident.

In July, the alarm system malfunctioning at Amsterdam’s westside pump station was blamed for crews not quickly addressing a valve fault since the issue was not immediately known. During the July incident, approximately 517,153 gallons of partially treated sewage spilled into the Mohawk River.

Hutchings had said repairs were made at the westside pump station and there has not been an issue since with the alarm system.