There was a major sewer backup on Manhasset Isle last week, spewing sewage into the homes of a number of residents. One Pequot Avenue dweller said she had over a foot of flooding in her basement, ruining a lot of her possessions. Another family bailed out over 15 buckets of water and had to throw out most of what was in their basement. In addition to the loss of many of their possessions, they are now faced with the need to disinfect their basements. According to the affected residents, the problem began in the early or mid-afternoon, and was not remedied until after 10:00 that night. Robert Breslin, superintendent of the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District (PWWPCD), said that the maintenance crew did not receive the call until 8:15 p.m. and were on the scene before 9:30, adding that the crew has up to an hour to respond.
According to Breslin and James Tomlinson, Manorhaven village trustee and former mayor, the cause of the backup was grease that clogged the sewer lines. They attributed the problem to individuals and restaurants who are throwing grease down the drain instead of putting it into the garbage as they should. Sewer clogging is not a new issue. In recent letters to the Village of Manorhaven, the PWWPCD said that in doing routine maintenance they had found "significant quantities of sand and grease" at the intersection of Kirkwood Road and Manorhaven Boulevard, and "significant grease quantities" on Manorhaven Boulevard between Firwood and Inwood. They also found "some kind of expanding foam" (like Styrofoam) on Sintsink Drive East and Matinecock Avenue, as well as "large quantities of sand" on Secatog Avenue, adding that the problems on Secatog dated back to at least July of 1999. In a March 20 letter to the mayor and the board of trustees of Manorhaven, Breslin said, "Unless the sources of the grease are identified and reduced there will be more stoppages in the future." He went on to say, "several times in the past the district has asked the village to take action to alleviate the grease conditions on Manorhaven Boulevard but it appears as if nothing has been done or the actions have been ineffective. Remedial action must be taken immediately to correct the deficiencies." In a second letter on April 3, Breslin restated his concerns. In a response dated April 4, Len Baron, Manorhaven superintendent of buildings wrote that he and the village maintenance crew had inspected the manholes on Secatog and "found no evidence of sand or gravel." Tomlinson said that the village regularly adds a bacterial solution that is intended to keep the sewer lines clear. He added that they are going to try to "track the source" of the clogging. When the Port News spoke with Breslin this week, he said that he is "satisfied" with the response of the Village to the PWWPCD's concerns.
The village owns and maintains its own sewer system, contracting with the Water Pollution Control District to perform routine maintenance and to process the sewage pumped out of the Manorhaven pumping station.
The Manorhaven sewer system is more than 45 years old, and badly in need of repair. At a recent public meeting, Tomlinson said that they have identified 13 "moderate" leaks and "several others." In addition, some sewers are bellied. The village has commissioned an engineering group to study the situation and produce a report. The results are expected to be made public this week.
A number of residents have expressed concern about the effect of the proposed Thypin Steel development on the antiquated sewer system and on the pumping station's capacity. A homeowner who lives across the street from Thypin Steel, in response to a "notice of mailing of adjoining properties" pointed out the "very serious problem" with the sewage system, and questioned the system's capability to handle the additional flow. "It'll be a disaster," said a Pequot Avenue resident who had major damage from the recent sewer backup. Tom Panullo, village trustee, shared these concerns. "With Thypin Steel, it's going to be very bad," he said. Breslin said that he did not have enough information at this point to comment on the impact of the new development, but did say that the district would have no problem handling the additional sewage that may be generated.
Mayor Nicholas Capozzi said at a recent public meeting, "We have known about the sewer situation for four years now, and we are saving the surplus to fix it." At the same meeting, Tomlinson estimated that it could cost as much as a million dollars. A homeowner who has many years of experience as an executive in the banking industry suggested that, from a financial point of view, the village would be well advised to consider floating a bond. "They should act with urgency," he said, "because interest rates are currently at an all-time low."