Replacement of Mamaroneck Club’s Sewer is Essential

The biggest success of our water quality testing in Mamaroneck last summer was the discovery of a broken sewer pipe that was leaking raw sewage into Otter Creek, near where it empties into Mamaroneck Harbor.

The bacterial counts here were through the roof. We reported the break to Village officials, who quickly required the owner of the sewer – the Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club– to make a temporary repair. Last Wednesday, the Village Planning Board began its review of a proposal for a permanent solution.

The Village and the club’s owners have decided that the permanent repair should include replacement of the entire sewer – a force main that connects to the Village’s sewers and to the Mamaroneck sewage treatment plant – and a pump station on the club grounds.

The club already has a proposal before the Mamaroneck Planning Board to build a 5,800-square-foot recreation building; a 5,500 square-foot yacht/dockmaster’s building; and18 seasonal apartments in a 13,500-square foot building. Save the Sound is not taking a position on that expansion.

The Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club is located on the east side of Mamaroneck Harbor
The Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club is located on the east side of Mamaroneck Harbor

The Planning Board is considering the replacement of the sewer and pump station as part of the larger proposal, and so the sewer project requires its own supplemental environmental review.

The proposal is for the new force main to follow the route of the existing force main. Alternative routes must be studied as part of the supplemental environmental impact statement. Under that plan, according to the club’s engineer, they will bore a tunnel at least six feet under Otter Creek, and then run a 4-inch polyethylene pipe inside a protective sleeve through the tunnel; the pipes are one piece – no joints or connections to break or come apart.

According to the club’s engineer, the tunnel will start far enough from the banks of the creek so that the wetlands and critical environmental area are not disturbed, and the pipe will be pulled through the tunnel. Elsewhere on the route they will use typical trenching to lay the pipe. The club’s engineer said the life expectancy of the pipe is about a century. All of this will be detailed in the environmental review and subject to public review and comment.

Last Wednesday, the Planning Board held a public hearing on the supplemental review’s scope – essentially the outline for the review. Excerpts of Save the Sound’s letter are below:

We write in strong support of the replacement of the force main and sewage pump station owned by the Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club. [Our] sole purpose in this comment is to ensure a permanent solution to the force main break that plagued Otter Creek and Long Island Sound with raw sewage. Considering the age of the force main and the pump station, we believe it is highly likely that they are in a severely degraded condition and will leak raw sewage into groundwater and streams if they are in use when the club resumes full operations in summer. …

… Otter Creek is a critical environmental area with significant natural resources, including tidal mud flats; every precaution must be taken during the project’s construction to ensure that the work is done carefully, that it is timed to do the least damage to wildlife in the area, and that disturbed areas are restored to their previous condition or improved upon.

Our position that the force main and pump station must be replaced is based on several factors:

  • the severity of the leak in the force main that our water quality testing uncovered in August 2013;
  • the reality that throughout Mamaroneck Village aging, decrepit sewer infrastructure is leaking raw sewage into groundwater and into tributaries of the Sound;
  • the probability that the pump station and other sections of the force main are in similarly decrepit condition.

… [It] is essential that the Planning Board determine definitively if other sections of the existing force main have deteriorated to the point where they are leaking sewage into ground water; and if the existing pump station is allowing stormwater to infiltrate the sanitary sewer system. If those problems exists and are extreme, the replacement must be expedited to ensure that the new infrastructure is in use when the club reopens for the summer.

Click here to read the full letter.

– Posted by Tom Andersen, New York Program and Communications Coordinator for Save the Sound

3 thoughts on “Replacement of Mamaroneck Club’s Sewer is Essential

  1. Replacement of Sewer Line and Pump Station by Mamaroneck Beach & yacht Club is Definitely Needed

    It is great that Save the Sound is joining numerous others in supporting the replacement of Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club’s aging and beyond its useful life sewer main and pump station in this Critical Environmental Area. This work is long overdue.

    MB&YC is under an “Order to Remedy Violation” by the Village of Mamaroneck and has been told by both the Village and Westchester County Health Department to replace and upgrade the sanitary sewer main and pump station.

    Since 2004, citizens in Mamaroneck have been raising questions regarding the adequacy of the sewer line.

    There is no question that the sewer line and pump station need to be replaced as quickly as possible, but as is oft said, “the devil is in the details.”
    MB&YC has proposed their preferred option to be through NYS upland and under Otter Creek, a designated critical environmental area, and then through private property to reach the municipal sanitary sewer system. Like all of us, as we get older things break and need to be replaced. One of the main issues is that the new line running beneath Otter Creek will, at some time, fail, once again polluting our waters and adversely affecting this fragile critical environmental area.

    An examination of the recent leak revealed a broken rusty pipe, suggesting that the pipe had been leaking for some time. The immediate repair required digging up portions of Otter Creek’s intertidal zone, breaking the remaining pipe, putting in a short new section of pipe, and filling the area as well as disturbance of the adjacent private property to gain access.

    It is inconceivable that anyone would want to potentially create a similar problem of long term leaking into our waterways in the future. There are alternatives, including running the sewer line on an existing bridge over Otter Creek similar to the existing gas and water utilities servicing the area. In the event of a leak in a line over Otter Creek, it would be easily detected, could be quickly fixed with almost no disturbance to Otter Creek, and would have significantly less potential damage or adverse effects to this critical environmental area.

    Other alternatives are to create a package treatment plant on the MB&YC site or follow a different path along Taylors Lane.

    Bottom line (no pun intended), we believe that everyone supports the required replacement sewer line and pump station as soon as possible – but we also need to make sure that it is done in a responsible and meaningful manner so as to protect the environment, be as compatible with the area as possible, and ensure proper safeguards are in place to detect potential future leakage or failure issues and allow of their immediate repair.

    It is certainly true that the replacement sewer line and pump station need to be undertaken regardless of whether or not MB&YC’s proposed new development on the property is approved. It is also needs to be understood that many feel MB&YC’s proposed development would shatter the special protections provided by the Village’s Marine Recreation zoning and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for this and similar waterfront sites in this one of a kind waterfront community.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Dan. Save the Sound believes the Village should review the alternative routes, and listen carefully to what residents say, in order to chose the route that provides the highest level of protection for the natural resources of both Mamaroneck and Long Island Sound.

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