Saugerties water plant survives mud-and-rock slide

The Blue Mountain Reservoir (file photo)

Heavy rains three weeks ago, that have been estimated at 3.9 inches in a 20-minute period by Mike Marino, the superintendent of the village of Saugerties wastewater treatment plant, caused damage at the plant. It also resulted in the shutdown of the drinking-water treatment plant at the Blue Mountain Reservoir.

In a report to the village government, Marino said the heavy rains in such a short amount of time had caused a mud-and-rock slide from a mountain to the rear of the wastewater treatment plant’s main building. Much of the mud, water and rocks slid into the building’s basement, leaving about two feet of water and mud that needed to be cleaned up. The mud and rock also piled up on the outside of a collection tank.

It took plant workers two days to clean up. The detritus filled two dump trucks.

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“At no time was the plant taken off-line,” Marino reported. However, the water and mud damaged two pumps in the basement. The pumps are still being dried out, and Marino was unsure whether they would by usable.

He suggested the village board look into building a wall in front of the basement window to channel future mudslides away and protect the building and the holding tank.

The village’s water treatment plant at the Blue Mountain Reservoir didn’t fare as well. According to Michael Hopf, superintendent of the water department, runoff from the surrounding watershed dumped clay and mud into the reservoir, which clogged the plant’s filtration system and forced the stoppage of the supply of fresh drinking water to the Saugerties community.

Treatment operations were down for 55 hours, “which is the longest time the plant has been off-line since I’ve been here,” Hopf said.

While the plant was off-line, clean water to supply customers was taken from the water system’s three-million-gallon holding tank. When the plant was brought back on line after the mud and clay had settled to the bottom of the reservoir, the clean drinking water in the holding tank was replenished.

When new filters are installed at the plant as part of the village’s $3-million allocation from the state’s Community Rising Program, Hopf said the plant should never have to come off-line.