Last Week's Deluge Caused Big Problems in Westchester But Not at the Sewage Treatment Plants
But I'm told now that despite a record amount of water flowing through the plants during and after the northeaster, and even though they had to resort to backup power, all four of Westchester's Sound shore sewage plants performed admirably. No damage, no drop in treatment levels.
The plants are owned and operated by the county. They come under incredible stress because the sewers leading to them (which are owned by the municipalities) are in such poor shape that they get flooded with rainwater, which ought to be flowing not into the sewage treatment plants but through storm sewers and into local streams and the Sound itself.
That situation hasn't changed much in the 25 years since I first learned of it, which leads me to believe that the treatment plants performed better last week because the people running them and working in them wanted them to perform better -- in other words they were diligent about their jobs and took their responsibilities seriously.
If that's indeed the case, they deserve credit.
Update: Here’s an exchange between me and someone who knows about the county’s sewage plants:
Me: "This brings to mind a big storm back in the spring of '98 or '99 (not sure when but Spano was the county exec), that did a lot of damage to the
“That was in May '98 just after Andy Spano took office in January. That disaster was due to a power failure in
Me: "The fact that the plants performed well this time, was it because of better equipment or better preparedness on the part of the staff?”
“Better preparedness mostly, although I would also say that Nick Benevento, the current plant supervisor, is first rate and completely committed to his job and he has a good core team. We now have emergency response plans in place, training to the plans and we test all back up generators every month. When Con Ed warned us the power would be cut this time, we engaged the Plant's back up generator (which can also function automatically when necessary) and ASAP brought in a Con Ed diesel generator - at our expense - put it to work and put the plant generator back into its back up role, so that if the Con Ed generator failed (any generator can do that) we would still have a back up. Belt and suspenders.”
This person went on to say that the events in ’98 led to a “never again” attitude:
"I credit Tony Landi, John D'Aquino (retired a few years ago)