On the evening of Sunday, October 25 a sewer main collapsed and caused an embankment failure below the intersection of Liberty Street and Bayview Terrace around 6 p.m. The City of Newburgh quickly declared a state of emergency.
As soon as the City received reports, it was investigated that the main located in the area had collapsed and the surrounding embankments failed. It was reported that 20 gallons of raw sewage were being released per minute. Once it was reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, an alert was issued around 7 p.m.
The state of emergency read, “There is a present emergency which necessitates activation of the City of Newburgh Emergency Preparedness Plan and utilization of powers granted therein; and … based upon the above findings and in accordance with applicable local and State law, I, Joseph P. Donat, City Manager of the City of Newburgh, New York, hereby declares a State of Emergency related to the sewer collapse and embankment failure listed above.”
Donat said the emergency alert was mainly for “procurement purposes.”
They quickly hired emergency contractors who mobilized and installed a sewer bypass system. The bypass pump is still in place and will continue to be operational with “low flows observed in the manhole.” It uses more than 1,000 feet of temporary sewer piping and called for a special roadway for emergency crews that was composed of 400 tons of road millings.
On scene were personnel from several city departments including the water department, department of public works, engineering department and fire department.
“We had multiple department heads there over the last 24 hours,” said Donat at Monday’s council meeting. “They’ve practically had no sleep … My hat certainly goes off to them.”
The City reported that as the project continues to unfold there will be additional work to clean the sewer main. A larger excavator is also being mobilized to haul in stone to stockpile near the collapsed area.
“Aside from the critical infrastructure work currently underway, a positive outcome of the sewer failure will be the removal of significant amounts of trash and debris scattered across the area surrounding the embankment failure, which will ultimately lead to significant ecological improvements,” read a letter from the City of Newburgh.
While the contractors were completing the project, they discovered a “historic footpath” that once went from the end of Liberty Street to across the Quassaick Creek to connect residents to their jobs at nearby factories in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Sewer service remains uninterrupted at this time thanks to the bypass that was put in place. The City is asking that the public avoids the temporary piping situated on Bayview Terrace.
“The work that our department of public works, department of water and department of engineering did last night really needs to be commended,” said councilman Anthony Grice. “They were able to do that work without disrupting service to our residents. That’s huge and doesn’t happen in a lot of cities.”
“They had this generator and big light outside of my window,” said councilwoman Ramona Montaverde, whose ward the sewer break happened in. “I slept through the night knowing that they were doing their best to stabilize the sewer line so that we can continue to flush our toilets. Thank you for the hard work.”
On a similar note, in September it was also discovered that a property owner had an illicit sewer connection. The corporation counsel has worked alongside the engineering department to resolve the issue.