Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 24, 2013

Gulf sewer leak declared an emergency

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Common Council on Wednesday OK’d hiring of Mark Cerrone Inc. to get at a sanitary sewer leak in the Gulf Stream interceptor.

For an undetermined time, sewage has been spilling into Gulf Creek from a break in the interceptor, a main line that carries sewage to the wastewater treatment plant from the southwest part of the city. The main cuts through the Gulf ravine behind the city highway garage.

Niagara Falls-based Mark Cerrone Inc., the company that recently completed demolition of the burned-out Kohl Cycle building on Gooding Street, is hired at no fixed price, according to 4th Ward Alderman Patrick Schrader, chairman of the Council’s water and sewer committee.

In a special meeting Wednesday, the Council approved an emergency declaration, which allows bypassing of normal competitive bidding requirements for the work.

Cerrone Inc. has the heavy equipment that’s needed to get work crews down to the bottom of the ravine, Schrader said.

“Fixing the leak is a major project because it’s right down in the gulf,” he said. “Our guys have no way to get to it.”

The leak is being monitored by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The city is testing the area behind the highway garage, and D.E.C. is sending an employee out to the site, every day. Gulf Creek empties into Eighteenmile Creek.

“They are right on our case: Get it fixed, quickly,” Schrader said.

Bills from Cerrone will be paid as they come in; according to Schrader, whatever the work costs, it costs and the sewer reserve fund will be tapped. The fund presently contains about $500,000 — which Schrader said he thinks is more than enough.

The leak was discovered three weeks ago, after employees complained of a sewer odor in the highway garage. When and why it developed, city officials are not sure.

According to Schrader, an unknown portion of the 1,000-foot interceptor is collapsed. Public works supervisors think the collapse could have occurred with flash flooding this past June  — or it could be due to activity by beavers in the ravine. The city already got D.E.C.’s permission to remove a beaver’s dam in the affected area. Schrader said the problem might also be that the line simply gave way. It’s roughly 40-year-old corrugated pipe.

Cerrone crews built a road to the bottom of the ravine Wednesday. They’ll start digging to expose the line today, Schrader said. The collapsed portion is to be rebuilt and the rest relined.