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City Looks To Continue Sewer Cleanup Efforts

OSWEGO, NY – Work to clean various west side sewers is coming along “quite nicely,” according to Mike Smith, DPW commissioner. And, it’s being done at a much lower cost than a contractor was going to charge the city.

In early May, representatives from Duke’s Plumbing & Sewer Services and Stearns and Wheler requested additional monies to complete Phase II of the Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey. They cited “unforeseen problems” as the reason.

It had been discovered that several of the sanitary sewers were full of sediment and required extensive cleaning, beyond the unit price contained in the contract, Tony Leotta, city engineer, explained.

Duke requested an additional $168,500.43 for the excessive cleaning.

The city DPW has been cleaning sewers since the dispute.

Monday night, Smith requested an extension of the Vactor rental agreement in order to continue additional mandated sewer main cleaning.

“We expect to be finished with all the cleaning possibly as early as this week, certainly by the very first part of next week,” he said. “We still have the equipment for a week or so after that.”

He provided councilors with a list of other mains that need attention.

“Once I finish the original contract, we’re going to go to this secondary list and accomplish what we can with the time we have left on the contract,” he told the Administrative Services Committee.

If the city decides to continue to clean sewer lines, based on the progress up to this point, a lot more can be done, he said, adding that if he exhausts what’s on the list there are still others that can be done.

“We are past the learning curve. It’s going along quite nicely,” he said.

“There would be an additional benefit from doing this,” Gay Williams, city attorney, pointed out. “That is something that is more than likely to be mandated for us to do by the DEC. I think we’re going to have to do it in the long-run, no matter what. And, secondly, to the extent that we can show them that we are undertaking this voluntarily and done some of this ourselves it probably wouldn’t hurt us in our negotiations with them.”

“This will definitely gain us points with the DEC and EPA,” Leotta agreed. “The best time to do this is July and August.”

“What is the current city cost to date?” asked Mike Joyce (R-Seventh Ward). “To complete what they’re supposed to do.”

“It cost us $17,000 to rent the Vactor for two months,” Smith said. “Total manpower was about $22,000. So it’s about $39,000 right now.”

“And Duke wanted to charge us $168,000,” Joyce added.

“For the amount of money that our talented DPW has saved us with this project, I am definitely in favor of moving forward to get rest done,” said Mike Myers (R-Second Ward). “We should do more of these projects in-house.”

Councilor Sue Sweet (R-Third Ward) was also supportive of Smith’s request.

Since the work would likely have to be done anyway, she favored doing it now.

The city would have been in an ominous financial situation if it had gone with the contractor, Councilor Connie Cosemento (D-First Ward) noted.

“This, potentially, will save us a lot of bucks,” she said.

Councilor Shawn Walker (R-Fourth Ward) asked if the east side sewers needed cleaning as badly as the west side.

“Eventually, the city is going to have to establish a program to clean them all, both east and west” Leotta said. “Right now the DEC and EPA are focused in on the west side. But, some time in the future, the city is going to have to set up a program citywide to methodically clean sewers; perhaps ward by ward or area by area.”

By cleaning the sewers now the city will get a jump on the DEC mandate, “which is going to put us in good stead with the DEC and the EPA,” Leotta continued.

The committee sent the request to the full council for consideration.