A New York State based watchdog organization called Riverkeeper, that advocates for and monitors the quality of the Hudson River, published a perspective earlier this month on the effects of the recent sewer leak near Forest Avenue in Amsterdam on the water quality of the Mohawk River.
According to an article posted on the organization’s website written by Water Quality Program Manager Dan Shapley, three days of rain in August had an effect on the river that was 11 to 25 times greater than the effect of the leak into the Chuctanunda Creek, which flows into the river.
Shapley cited data collected by SUNY Cobleskill at three Amsterdam locations downstream from the Chuctanunda Creek outlet into the river, over late July through early August.
Results showed that on July 27, two days after the leak was first reported, there were slightly elevated enterococcus bacterial levels from testing sites at Riverlink Park and a level at Lock 10 near Cranesville which would normally trigger a beach advisory under United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
Samples taken on July 29, the same day that crews successfully installed a bypass which effectively stopped the source of the leak, showed bacterial levels at three Amsterdam testing sites had all dropped to levels deemed safe for swimming under EPA guidelines.
However, samples taken on August 2, after approximately three days of rain totaling over 3 inches, showed bacteria levels all along the Mohawk River, from Fort Johnson to Albany, far exceeded the EPA’s level for safe swimming.
According to Shapley, rainstorms cause pollution from both urban and rural areas by inundating old cracked sewer lines, causing pump station overflows, as well as runoff from manure at farms lacking effective management. Shapley called for increased spending to fix aging sewer infrastructure at municipalities along the Mohawk River.