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Hurricane Sandy Flooded Kingston’s Sewage Treatment Plant, Causing Significant Damage To Electrical Equipment & Undermining The Long-Term Viability of The Facility 

Schumer Called on FEMA to Help Kingston Cover Full Costs of Project That Would Replace Parts of Electrical System & Raise Equipment to Avoid Future Damage from Rondout Creek Flooding

Schumer: Fed Funds Will Soon Start Flowing To Kingston

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced he successfully pushed the federal government to provide the needed funding to help the City of Kingston make critical repairs to and increase the resiliency of its sewage treatment plant, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The project will receive a total of $2,713,767.30 in federal funding.  Schumer said that without funding from FEMA, this critical repair project would have stalled even longer and undermined the long-term viability of the sewage treatment plant.

“Kingston residents can rest assured that their check will soon be in the mail,” said Senator Schumer. “The city of Kingston will soon get nearly $3 million in federal funding to help pay for this severely damaged plant. These federal funds will not only repair the wastewater treatment plant but will also protect the plant from damage from future storms. I am glad FEMA heeded my call that this funding is sorely needed so Kingston taxpayers are not left holding the bag for millions in repair costs.”

“Thanks to Senator Schumer’s efforts, we are incredibly pleased to receive this funding, which will make necessary repairs to our sewage treatment facilities in response to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy and will mitigate the impact of future flooding in the area. This will greatly support our efforts to build more resilient infrastructure in our waterfront area,” said Mayor Noble.

Schumer has worked tirelessly to advance FEMA’s decision to approve the project. Schumer made a phone call to top Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official, Regional Administrator Jerome Hatfield, to urge FEMA to expedite the process needed to make this project a reality. Schumer explained that original estimates put the cost of repairing electrical cables, elevating equipment and making other necessary repairs at approximately $2 million, and FEMA agreed to cover most of that cost. However, a later site visit revealed more damage to the plant and the need for more repairs than initially accounted for, raising the total project price tag. Since January 2015, Schumer has urged FEMA to re-consider Kingston’s application for federal funding in light of the cost increase and revise the amount FEMA will cover.

Schumer explained that the City of Kingston’s wastewater treatment plant suffered significant damage during Superstorm Sandy. The treatment plant sits along the Rondout Creek, which flooded during the storm, ruining equipment, causing damage to electrical systems and causing the plant to go offline for several hours. Schumer explained that original estimates in 2014 put the cost of repairing electrical cables and elevating equipment at approximately $2.2 million, and FEMA agreed to cover 90 percent of that cost through the Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program.

During his initial visit to Kingston in January 2015 to advocate for this project, Schumer urged FEMA to cover the maximum possible amount through the PA program. He did this in a letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate. While FEMA initially agreed to fund approximately $2 million, the City needed additional funding to cover the cost of later discovered damage and to implement a plan to make the facility more resilient. Schumer said with additional federal funds, Kingston will be able to replace electrical cables and raise equipment in order to ensure generators and other critical equipment does not become submerged in floodwaters and become damaged from future Rondout Creek flooding. The city’s plan will provide the plant with an increased level of flood protection, a more robust and simplified electrical system, and more resilient facilities.

With the additional PA funds, the Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant will be able return to its pre-storm state of performance, with increased resiliency and emergency backup in the event of the next storm. The City of Kingston has said that many of the original repairs that were going to be made with the initial $2.2 million will require further upgrades to other parts of the plant that would not work properly as a result of the repairs, underlining the need for the federal funds to be increased to the maximum amount so that the entire plant is repaired and brought into compliance with current standards for treating sewage. The additional work needed includes the replacement of the damaged system of electrical cables, replacement of critical pumping equipment and raising equipment, like generators, to avoid future damage. Schumer explained that FEMA PA funds from Superstorm Sandy typically cover 90 percent of the cost to a municipality.

The Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant is the only plant for the entire city and serves approximately 30,000 people. Most of the plant was built in the 1940s and it is upgraded roughly every 10 years. The dry weather capacity of the plant is 6.8 million gallons and wet weather capacity is 10.2 million gallons.