01.16.15

SCHUMER PUSHES FEMA TO FULLY FUND CRITICAL REPAIRS TO KINGSTON’S SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT FLOODED BY HURRICANE SANDY – FEDS APPROVED INITIAL COST ESTIMATE FOR REPAIRS, BUT RECENT DISCOVERY OF ADDITIONAL DAMAGE HAS MORE THAN TRIPLED PRICE TAG; SCHUMER URGES FEMA TO RE-CONSIDER KINGSTON’S APPLICATION & COVER ENTIRE $6M IN COSTS

Hurricane Sandy Flooded Kingston’s Sewage Treatment Plant, Causing Significant Damage To Electrical Equipment & Undermining The Long-Term Viability of The Facility – FEMA Agreed to Cover Costs of Close to $2M for Necessary Repairs & Upgrades, But Newly Discovered Damage Has Tripled Project’s Scope

Schumer Urges FEMA Administrator to Cover Maximum Possible Amount; City Has Agreed To Cover Some Costs, but With Price Tag Now at $6M, Kingston Needs Fed Help – With Fed Funds, Kingston Will Replace Parts of the Electrical System & Raise Equipment to Avoid Future Damage from Rondout Creek Flooding; FEMA OK Would Get Project Underway

 

Schumer to FEMA: Cost of Repairs to Kingston Sewage Treatment Plant Should Be Approved ASAP

 

Today, at the Kingston Sewage Treatment Plant, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide the maximum amount of federal funding possible to the City of Kingston for critical repairs to the city’s sewage treatment plant, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy. 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, but a recent site visit from FEMA revealed more damage to the plant and the need for more repairs, which raised the price tag to more than $6 million. Schumer 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 said that the repair project is ready to get underway and the increased funding amount should be approved right away, because without funding from FEMA the project could stall and undermine the long-term viability of the sewage treatment plant.

 

“This FEMA funding is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to making absolutely vital repairs to the City of Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant and making it more able to withstand future storms. This project, and the additional funding, is sorely needed to help prevent future damage from flooding and it is critical for making sure this city of 30,000 people has a facility that will remain viable in the long term,” said Schumer. “Smaller cities like Kingston are under immense financial pressure, and they should not be left holding the bag for an additional $4 million. With work ready to get underway, I am urging FEMA to cover the additional costs and get this project moving forward. I do not want to see this project get stuck in endless bureaucracy.”

 

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 put the cost of repairing electrical cables and elevating equipment at approximately $2.2 million, and FEMA agreed to cover 90% of that cost through the Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program. However, after further evaluations, additional damage was discovered at the plant. Due to the need to get power up and running at the facility as quickly as possible after the storm, most equipment was only wiped clean and vacuumed in the immediate aftermath, instead of going through a thorough tear down and inspection process. Because of this, the wastewater treatment plant staff has reported an increased failure rate with many pieces of equipment that were partially or fully submerged in the floodwaters. Schumer said this has led to the need for additional repairs, which has raised the price tag for the project to more than $6.7 million, leaving the City of Kingston with an additional $4.4 million in repair costs to cover.

 

Schumer called on FEMA to reconsider the city’s application for PA funding so that it might help cover these costs, which have more than tripled. Schumer urged FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate to cover the maximum possible amount through the PA program. While the City of Kingston has agreed to fund some of the repair, with a price tag increase of more than $4 million it will need help to get the project underway. Schumer said with additional federal funds, Kingston would 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 would provide the plant with an increased level of flood protection, a more robust and simplified electrical system, and more resilient facilities. With its PA grant increased to $6.7 million, the Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant would 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 PA 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.

 

Schumer explained that the plant is currently still in use but, due to the increased failure of equipment around the plant as a result of the flooding, its overall effectiveness could be severely hindered if these repairs and upgrades are not made soon. 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.

 

Schumer was joined by County Executive Michael Hein; Mayor Shayne Gallo, City of Kingston; and Ralph Swenson, City Engineer for the City of Kingston.

 

“I saw firsthand the devastation caused to this specific area and our entire community by Superstorm Sandy.  A record 9.5 foot storm surge left devastation in its wake. We strongly support Senator Schumer's efforts to assist in this process and he has always been there for our community,” saidMichael Hein, Ulster County Executive.

 

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to FEMA appears below:

 

Dear Administrator Fugate:

 

I write you today in support of the City of Kingston’s application for an additional $4.4 million in funding under the Public Assistance program to repair the Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant (NY-4085-PW-02506(0)). As you know, the 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.

 

I thank you for your attention to the $2.2 million that has already been awarded to this project; that funding will go a long way toward helping the city rebuild this critical piece of infrastructure. As you know, however, during a later evaluation, additional damage was discovered at the wastewater treatment plant. Due to the need to get power up and running at the facility as quickly as possible after the storm, most equipment was only wiped clean and vacuumed in the immediate aftermath, instead of going through a thorough tear down and inspection process. Staff at the wastewater treatment plant have noticed an increased failure rate with many pieces of equipment that were partially or fully submerged from the floodwaters.

 

The City has developed a cost-effective plan to repair the damage to the Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant. Their plan will provide the plant with an increased level of flood protection, a more robust and simplified electrical system, and more resilient facilities. With its Public Assistance grant increased to $6.7 million, 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.

 

I sincerely hope the City of Kingston’s application for increased Public Assistance funding meets with your approval. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



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