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Residents Ask Village to Find Solution to Sewage Back-ups in Edgewood

flood1“In municipal government it all comes back to the sewers,” opined Scarsdale Village Manager Steve Pappalardo at the November 12, 2019 meeting of the Village Board. He was responding to complaints about sewage back-ups from a group of residents on Barry Road who reported that raw sewage was “forced into the basement sinks and floors of some homes” at 2 pm on Sunday October 27, 2019.

According to Greg Schwend, who spoke on behalf of the Drake Edgewood Neighborhood Association, this was not the first incident. The issue was first noted in 2005 but it took until 2011 for neighbors to organize and complain to the Village. In 2011 the County of Westchester cleaned a sewage trunk line that lies in the bed of the Hutchinson River. According to Schwend, “Capacity was improved by their cleaning and the problem seemed to have gone away after that for a few years.” However he said, “Now it has reappeared. It happened three times last year and at least twice this year.” He said, “I stood before the Village Board eight years ago and asked the Village Board to treat this issue as if it were you and your own home. And here we are eight years later.”

Reading from Village code Chapter 244, Schwend said, “It is critically important that the Village maintain, repair, improve and replace when necessary components of the sanitary sewer system in order to reduce extraneous flows and illegal discharges. Municipalities must by law take action to fix and maintain sanitary sewage collection systems to reduce all non-sanitary flows into the system.” He added, the Clean Water Act creates strict guidelines for municipalities to maintain their sanitary sewer systems. Westchester County code mandates that municipalities must take immediate action to reduce extraneous flows into the sanitary sewer system.”

He continued, “These extraneous flows get into the Hutchinson River. We know we have a flooding issue. We know there is an intra municipal agreement to take care of the flooding, but this is not the cause of our sewage overflows. The cause is too much water getting into the sanitary sewer system. What I didn’t know before but know now is that a lot of Arthur Manor and Edgewood are connected into a sewer system that has an overflow connection into the Barry Road line. The Bronx River district is causing our problems. It is likely that there are illicit connections going into that system that need to be investigated. I like the idea of a Village code change that allows inspectors to go into homes to check these connections.”

Greg Linn, also on Barry Road said, “I moved here in 2010 and at the closing the previous homeowner told me about the shut off valve to turn off if sewage starts coming in. It did improve after 2011 but the problems are back. They are disgusting and gross. When it rains heavily sewage backs up into our downstairs shower. I appreciate all the effort but it is continuing to happen. If there are any faster solutions, I would be very appreciative for the health of my family and our neighbors and the value of our homes.”

Mr. Zeng on Barry Road said, “I just moved here two years ago. Before he moved here we heard about a good town and good neighbors. We found a lovely house on Barry Road and bought it – but then got a big surprise. It was raining and I found a back-up in the basement and found out about the sewage issues from neighbors. People have a good impression of Scarsdale and good expectations. I hope you will spend more time helping the residents understand the problem and tackling it. I appreciate your help to resolve this problem.”

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo had prepared remarks on the subject. He said, “I want to provide background information on the flooding and sanitary sewer issues, specifically at the end of Barry Road. This section along the Hutchinson River is within the FEMA 100-year flood plain. It is an area at high risk for flooding. These floods have been happening more frequently.
Standing high water of the Hutchinson Riverbed exacerbates these problems. The Hutchinson River in this area is in need of clearing and de-silting…. During rainstorms, it overflows.
Scarsdale Village is collaborating with the County and the Village of New Rochelle on a multi-million improvement project for this work. The work also involves moving four existing culverts to move the water downstream more quickly. This is different than building retention basins as we did in Fox Meadow. In this case we want to move the water out of Scarsdale more quickly.”

He reported, “After numerous stops and starts over the last few years, the proper intra-municipal agreements are now in place for a $3.5 million in county and NYS grants for this work. The work to draft an RFP has now begun. It is a very complicated project because it involves getting the right of entry from numerous private property owners and it involves a dam where ownership issues exist. Despite these obstacles the three entities will see this through. Hopefully when the work is done, homes along that river will be removed from the FEMA flood map.”

He continued, “In 2011 the County conducted certain flow studies and determined during certain rain events that the flow level of the sanitary sewers spiked. Storm water entered the sanitary sewer system through either direct storm water connections, or storm water entering through faulty sewer pipes. This is called infiltration. The Village lined defective sewer pipes on Barry, Carmine and Johnson and Tunstall Roads to seal the pipes. The Village did smoke testing. Tests resulted in violation notices to homeowners.’

‘Sewage in this area enters the system through a county owned 12-inch trunk sewer which sits in the river bed. The city of New Rochelle also discharges sewage to this trunk line. During 2011 the County reported that this pipe was only operating at 60% of capacity. The County flushed and cleaned the trunk line in 2012. It requires annual cleaning in order to handle the volume.
During rain events this county trunk fills up, the sewer line backs up, causing the sewer manhole at the end of Barry Road to pop and dispense sewage onto the roadway. These issues continue to concern the village. We are doing an SSES of all districts. The Village is considering doing a study of how the Bronx Valley to the Hutchinson Valley. Necessary to discuss the impacts and expedite this study.”

He concluded, “The Village is working on the flood and sewage issues in this area to mitigate the issue. If there was an easy fix, we would have made it by now.”

Village Engineer David Goessel described the work that Village, County and City of New Rochelle has already done, admitting they were not able to solve the problem.

He provided a list of action items to continue to address the problem:

He recommended continuing to study the problem and to work with architects and engineers to review the results of prior studies. He said that wet weather televising and monitoring could help to locate the sources of inflow.

He believes that removing the connection to the sewer system from other neighborhoods might have impacts on other properties. He said, “Scarsdale will continue to work with the City New Rochelle on the trunk line and we will work with the neighborhood associations to identify the sump pumps and find out how relevant they are. If many homes have illicit connections to the sanitary sewer lines, the village can consider adding drainage to accommodate those homeowners.”

He said, “The Village will continue to work with the County to guarantee that the trunk line is cleaned so that it can work at capacity. In 2011 hydraulic capacity was found to be at 60%. Annual service is key to preventing back-ups.

The Village will work with staff to develop Village code regarding defective sewer laterals and illicit hook-ups to require inspections or affidavits from plumbers. At the time of sale the homeowner would need to provide affidavits from a licensed professional or village staff to show that there are no faulty laterals or illicit connections.

Last he said, “The staff will work with occupants to provide advice.”

Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps

In other public comments David Raizen from the Scarsdale Ambulance Corps came to the mic to ask the public to support the corps. He said, “It’s annual fundraising time. We mailed out an appeal. We made 1800 calls this year. We do mutual aid to neighboring communities

Half of our budget comes from donations and half come from “soft billing” where we get paid over 80% of the time. We received some stipends from the Village for fuel and repairs to the vehicles. We also take residents to doctor’s appointments. We have four ambulances for now.
We are able to staff three. We run CPR and EMT classes at the ambulance corps, one for high students during senior options. In short, it’s fund drive time. We now also cover a small sliver of the north end of New Rochelle” He asked residents to respond to the mail appeal.

Scarsdale Youth Council

SHS student Ben Assa proposed the creation of a Scarsdale Youth Council comprised of 10 -15 residents aged 14 to 18. This would allow young residents to advocate for themselves and discuss local issues relevant to them. It would promote civic education, leadership, public speaking skills and support civic engagement projects. He suggested they could deal with issues such as distracted driving, vaping and smoking.

Remembering Jim Labick

Bob Harrison
spoke in memory of his friend Jim Labick who passed away. He said Labick worked on the Scarsdale Forum and on fiscal affairs committees. He said, “We worked together to see that the Boards did their best to keep our tax rates down. Jim was 80 years old. He moved to Nashville to be near his daughter. I think it is important to let the community know about Jim’s passing.” He proposed a minute of silence on behalf of Jim Labick.

In his comments, Mayor Samwick discussed leaf season and said, “Leaf piles in the streets are a hazard. Put leaf piles on the grass – or mulch in place. He also warned residents about the new license plate readers that police are using for parking enforcement. He said, “There are different zones in different areas – so please be aware of the regulations – and please use Pango.”

Assistant to the Village Manager

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo welcomed Assistant to the Village Manager Aylone Katzin who replaces Josh Ringel who is now working in Tarrytown. Katzin has a masters degree in Public Administration from SUNY Binghamton and previously worked for the Town of Port Chester.

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