Rotterdam Boil Water Order Lifted, Assemblyman Calls For Action

Jun 12, 2018

The Schenectady County Department of Environmental Health has lifted a boil water for Rotterdam. The town is among many municipalities dealing with infrastructure issues.

Those affected by the most recent water main break were advised to flush all the water lines in their home or business for 3 to 5 minutes prior to use and to dump any ice made by ice machines.

State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a Democrat, is a Rotterdam resident and civil engineer. He says the breaks and boil water advisories are becoming all too common.  "We've seen repeated water main breaks in a very short period of time here and this is something that's unacceptable for the community here. I've called on the Commissioner at the Department of Health, Commissioner Zucker, to come out and see firsthand what's happening here in Rotterdam. We want to see a significant investment this point to upgrade the water system infrastructure, which in some cases is more than 60 years old."

The health department says it's looking into Santabarbara's request.

Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen notes there have been four breaks in the past 12 months in Rotterdam, only one that was town-wide.  The other three were for portions of the town. The most recent was the smallest, affecting 21 households.

McQueen says a boil water order can be triggered by a number of factors.   "The most common is a de-pressurization of a water line that would allow air and with it possible bacterial to enter a pipe. The break itself does not always trigger the boil water order. For instance, if there is enough pressure to force water dispersed out of the break, then air and possible bacteria to enter the pipe. The break itself does not always trigger the boil water order. For instance, if there is enough pressure to force water to squirt out of the break, then air and possible bacteria are not able to enter the pipe. So, in some instances a break would not always trigger a boil water, it depends on how severe the break is and if air has been able to enter the pipe and with it possible bacteria. It takes a minimum of 44 hours after repairs are made for a boil water order to be lifted. There needs to be two water samples taken after pressure has been restored to the pipes. The samples need to be taken a minimum of 8 hours apart and each sample take approximately 18 hours for the lab to test. So that's why you have the minimum of 44 hours generally two days. But again, that's after the repairs have been made and pressure has been restored which is why some boil water orders may take more than two days from when the water the boil water order was issued."

Santabarbara says he wants to see money from the $2 Billion Dollar Clean Water Infrastructure Act in the state budget directed toward Rotterdam.   "Making an investment like that is a lot better than what we've been seeing, which I like to call the band-aid method.  We don't want to see investments being made to repair over and over again sometimes the same repairs, if you add up those costs, it make sense to look at the water system, do the maintenance, make an investment o help us get ahead of the problem so that we're not reacting but we're being proactive."

UPDATES:

Late Tuesday, Senator Jim Tedisco (R,C,I,REF-Glenville) announced passage in the New York State Senate of legislation he is sponsoring by a vote of 61-0 - The Safe Water infrastructure Action Program (S.W.A.P.), creates a new state program to repair and maintain vital local drinking water, sewer, storm water management, gas line and water tower infrastructure to protect lives and save tax dollars by avoiding costly repairs when systems break.  S.W.A.P. is being sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Colonie).
 
“We hope the Assembly will provide this important infrastructure relief to help our local governments keep that lurking monster of deteriorating underground infrastructure at bay,” said Tedisco.

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New York State Health Department spokesperson Erin Silk emailed the following statement regarding the Town of Rotterdam:

“The Town of Rotterdam was recently awarded a State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grant for $3 million dollars and the Department is working with the town to secure additional funding to address infrastructure upgrades. The Department is also working with Assemblyman Santabarbara to ensure that this community is able to access all available financing options to help off-set these project costs.”