Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 3, 2013

City to absorb extra refuse tab

By Joyce Miles
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — All but one of the normal rules of refuse disposal are suspended for two weeks while residents clean up after the June 28 rain storm that flooded much of the city, Mayor Michael Tucker reiterated Tuesday.

There is no limit on disposal of bulk items — such as damaged appliances — and property owners do not have to wait until 24 hours before their normal pickup day to put items out to the curb.

There is no freedom from the ban on garbage picking, however. The prohibition is written into the city’s refuse and recycling ordinance and, for the first time, in the wake of messes reportedly made by storm-garbage pickers the past few days, it’s being enforced.

“Anybody who’s caught picking garbage will be arrested and prosecuted,” Tucker said. “We’re not going to put up with pickers going through garbage bags, and throwing stuff on the ground, while they’re looking for a tuna can ... .”

Also, electronic waste — TVs, computers and the like — still isn’t being picked up at the curb. An e-waste recycling drop-off site, staffed every first and third Saturday morning of the month, is open from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday at Harrison Place.

Across the city, water-damaged items hauled from wet basements are piled high and wide in front of homes, in bags, boxes and cans or loose, awaiting unscheduled pickup by Modern Corp., the city’s private refuse hauler. The company agreed to run four additional garbage trucks through the city daily, through July 12, to collect storm waste.

The added expense, expected to ring up somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000, will not be passed on to property owners in the pay-as-you-throw program, it will be absorbed by the city, Tucker said.

“We’ll try to get that reimbursed (by the federal government) ... but if we can’t, the city will just eat it. People have enough other problems now,” he said. “All we’ll ask (of residents) is, let’s try to be real about it. We know some of the garbage out there isn’t flood-related; let’s keep that to a minimum.”


The freaky Friday rain storm dumped a record amount of water on the city. The wastewater treatment plant, where storm water and sanitary sewage are cleaned, registered an intake high mark of 92.5 million gallons, while capacity is 80 million gallons and average point-in-time intake is 7 million gallons. Before Friday, 85 million gallons was the most the plant ever handled in a storm, Tucker said.

To those who suspect flooding of streets and basements was caused by deficiencies in the city’s aged sewer system, Norman Allen, director of engineering and public works, says “that’s just not true.”

“There was more rain than the sewers are designed to handle. That’s why (flooding) occurred,” he said.

When the flooding started, he added, “the first thing (public works crews) did was check storm receivers to make sure they were clear — and most of them were. That wasn’t the issue, volume was.”

The city’s cost to deal with the storm, in terms of dispatching public works employees, police officers and firefighters to respond to various crises, and repairing or replacing damaged public property, is estimated at $1.2 million initially.

Among the damages to public property:

• Two key pieces of equipment at the wastewater treatment plant, a grit collector and one of four water clarifying tanks, broke down during the storm. The system still functioned at 100 percent during and after the rain, but the equipment should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent damages in other parts of the treatment system, chief operator Doug Sibolski said.

• A section of Gooding Street near the wastewater treatment plant remains closed the rest of this week while a seven-foot-deep sinkhole in the pavement is filled and road shoulders are replaced. The stone shoulders were washed away by rain water rushing down the escarpment.

• Paved sections of the Spring and Vine street hills, which lead to Market Street, were washed away. The streets are passable after application of temporary patching, but both will need repaving soon. Perhaps somewhat remarkably, Allen said, Market Street itself was not damaged despite being flooded.

• A water main on Willow Street east of Beattie Avenue broke and was mended Friday night. The main snapped in an area where the surrounding ground was too soggy to hold it up, according to Allen.

• A newly installed water main extension from Reed Street to High Street has to be dug up and reinstalled after rain filled the trench and created air pockets around the pipe, which had been covered with stone but not soil yet when the rain started.

• Potholes formed around numerous manholes and storm receivers in streets across the city as rain washed away the asphalt at their edges. The rain washed away wood chips beneath playground equipment in several city parks as well.

At the city-owned Nelson Goehle Marina, Market Street, two boats sunk into the Erie Canal during the storm. According to Tucker, the boats were not covered and they sank after being filled with rain.