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‘We had to protect the homeowners:’ County officials provide insight on sewage discharge in Genesee River

todayJanuary 28, 2024 2

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County officials are providing insight after an alert sent out from New York State revealed that nearly 120,000 gallons of sewage were dumped into the Genesee River Friday.

120,000 gallons of sewage discharged into Genesee River in Henrietta due to rain, snow melt

Monroe County says “yes” — this is nothing out of the ordinary when we see rains falling after heavy snow melt. They say while this isn’t always the route they want to take, protecting public health and homeowners remains the priority.

“If a homeowner has an unprotected basement, or has an open floor drain, the sewage can back up,” Monroe County Director of Environmental Services Mike Garland told News 8. “The homeowners should have plumbing that that is installed in a way that protects their basement, but some homeowners don’t. They have unprotected basements; they have open floor drains. And so, if the sewer system becomes too full, it can back up into folks’ basements.”

Garland said while the sewer system in Monroe County is remarkable, it’s not designed to handle every storm event that may occur.

“So, on occasion, we do have situations where you may have a perfect storm, right snow melt, heavy rains, saturated soil, some pumps that can overwhelm the system,” Garland said.

On Friday, the NY Alert explained that due to rains falling after heavy snow melt while the soil was already saturated, the sewer system reached capacity.

Flooded roadways, power outages due to heavy rain moving through

And as a result of this, it was estimated nearly 1,000 gallons of sewage were discharged into the river per minute — for about two hours.

“To put it into perspective, we treated over four days, one billion gallons,” Garland said. “Approximately, the tunnel capacity was exceeded, and there was a discharge of about 19.25 million gallons. And then in some of the other areas where we had to bypass the sanitary sewer system, where we would partially treat the flow into the river. Again, we don’t like to do that. But we had to protect the homeowners. In total, there was about 22 million gallons of flow that ended up in the Genesee River through the tunnel systems capacity exceeding as well as our need to bypass from certain neighborhoods to protect those homeowners.”

As for how the public’s health is affected, Garland says the sewage was treated with a lime disinfectant, and is made sure to be highly diluted, to protect residents.

“I appreciate the concern that the residents have, we understand that our mission is to treat every drop of wastewater that gets into our system. But in extreme circumstances, which are rare, we have to protect the system we have to protect the health of our residents and their homes,” Garland said.

Garland said any customers of Monroe County that have concerns with basement or street flooding can contact their local Department of Public Works.

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County officials are providing insight after an alert sent out from New York State revealed that nearly 120,000 gallons of sewage were dumped into the Genesee River Friday.
120,000 gallons of sewage discharged into Genesee River in Henrietta due to rain, snow melt
Monroe County says “yes” — this is nothing out of the ordinary when we see rains falling after heavy snow melt. They say while this isn’t always the route they want to take, protecting public health and homeowners remains the priority.

“If a homeowner has an unprotected basement, or has an open floor drain, the sewage can back up,” Monroe County Director of Environmental Services Mike Garland told News 8. “The homeowners should have plumbing that that is installed in a way that protects their basement, but some homeowners don’t. They have unprotected basements; they have open floor drains. And so, if the sewer system becomes too full, it can back up into folks’ basements.”

Garland said while the sewer system in Monroe County is remarkable, it’s not designed to handle every storm event that may occur.

“So, on occasion, we do have situations where you may have a perfect storm, right snow melt, heavy rains, saturated soil, some pumps that can overwhelm the system,” Garland said.

On Friday, the NY Alert explained that due to rains falling after heavy snow melt while the soil was already saturated, the sewer system reached capacity.
Flooded roadways, power outages due to heavy rain moving through
And as a result of this, it was estimated nearly 1,000 gallons of sewage were discharged into the river per minute — for about two hours.

“To put it into perspective, we treated over four days, one billion gallons,” Garland said. “Approximately, the tunnel capacity was exceeded, and there was a discharge of about 19.25 million gallons. And then in some of the other areas where we had to bypass the sanitary sewer system, where we would partially treat the flow into the river. Again, we don’t like to do that. But we had to protect the homeowners. In total, there was about 22 million gallons of flow that ended up in the Genesee River through the tunnel systems capacity exceeding as well as our need to bypass from certain neighborhoods to protect those homeowners.”

As for how the public’s health is affected, Garland says the sewage was treated with a lime disinfectant, and is made sure to be highly diluted, to protect residents.

“I appreciate the concern that the residents have, we understand that our mission is to treat every drop of wastewater that gets into our system. But in extreme circumstances, which are rare, we have to protect the system we have to protect the health of our residents and their homes,” Garland said.

Garland said any customers of Monroe County that have concerns with basement or street flooding can contact their local Department of Public Works. Read More Monroe CountyRochesterFirst  

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