Replacement of Storm-Damaged Rotterdam District #5 Wellhead Will Prevent Future Flooding and Protect the Town's Water Supply
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of the $1.5 million Flood Protection of the Rotterdam District #5 Wellhead Project to protect against flooding and ensure a safe water supply for the Town of Rotterdam, Schenectady County. Developed by members of the local NY Rising Community Reconstruction Committee, the project addresses damage caused by Hurricane Irene with a new, more resilient well that features elevated casting above the 500- and 100-year floodplains. With the District #5 Wellhead providing most of the town's water supply, the strategic upgrades will ensure uninterrupted access to clean and potable water during future storm events. The project was carried out by the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery in partnership with the Town of Rotterdam.
"Effective water infrastructure is essential to promoting public health, protecting the environment and encouraging the future growth and prosperity of our communities," Governor Cuomo said. "The completion of this vital project will ensure residents in Rotterdam have access to clean and potable water during emergency situations when these resources could be potentially lifesaving."
Governor Cuomo established the NYRCR Program in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee to empower residents in the recovery and resiliency process, and to speak to the specific needs and assets of their communities. The Rotterdam wellhead project is among the hundreds of locally devised proposals moving forward through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program statewide, including a $1.9 million effort to implement infrastructural and technological upgrades to the Rotterdam Junction Firehouse.
The Governor's Office of Storm Recovery provided more than $1.2 million in funds to the support the wellhead project and the Town of Rotterdam provided over $360,000. The effort involved establishing a well connection to existing pipes; installing a chlorinator, motor and a pump; and constructing a new building to house the pump and equipment. These enhancements have yielded a self-sufficient water supply facility that can be used if other wells become inoperative for any reason.
In August and September of 2011, the back-to-back impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused rapidly rising floodwaters to pour into streets and neighborhoods throughout Schenectady County. In some places, the Mohawk River rose as high as 28 feet, trapping residents in place and surrounding them by dangerous debris-laden waters.
Following the storms, system operators at the District #5 facility on Rice Road in Rotterdam had to evacuate as water came within two feet of the wellhead. The loss of potable water for washing, drinking, cooking and flushing toilets represented an urgent and profound health risk to the more than 12,000 households in the town.
Natalie Wright, Executive Director of the Community Reconstruction, Infrastructure and Small Business Programs at the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, said, "Reliable access to clean and potable water is a fundamental need— one that was severely restricted in the Town of Rotterdam during Hurricane Irene. Through the Flood Protection of the Rotterdam District #5 Well Heads Project, we have introduced measures to prevent flooding and preserve water quality for all those who live and work in the area. Thank you to the Town of Rotterdam, who has been such a tremendous partner in bringing this critical project to fruition."
Senator George Amedore said, "I witnessed firsthand the devastation in Rotterdam and throughout Schenectady County from the floodwaters caused by Hurricanes Irene and Lee so I'm happy to see this project completed. These critically important upgrades will provide clean, safe water for residents, as well as ensure better public safety in the case of future storm events."
Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara said, “As a civil engineer, I know how important it is to be proactive about preparing for extreme weather events that can threaten the health and safety of our communities. We can’t control the weather or its effects, but investments like this can help protect our communities in the event of a disaster. Completion of this project not only addresses the damage caused by Hurricane Irene, but also provides the families and residents of the Town of Rotterdam with a more resilient water supply that ensures access to clean and safe water during future storm events.”
Rotterdam Town Supervisor Steve Tommasone said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo, everyone at the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, Schenectady County, our town personnel, and importantly Carver Construction, Brunswick Electric, Layne Christensen and Prime engineering for their great work. Rotterdam and Schenectady County have a long history of protecting our Aquifer and the quality of our potable water. This new well greatly enhances our security and that of our neighbors. We now have the ability to provide water on an emergency basis to the City of Schenectady and to the Town of Guilderland and, in the near future, the possibility of increasing our pumping capacity to meet water demands in those neighboring municipalities whose people and businesses need water."
Altogether, more than 650 New Yorkers served on 66 NYRCR planning committees across the state and collectively proposed hundreds of regionally inspired projects. During the bottom-up planning process, the committees held 650 planning meetings and 250 large-scale public engagement events focused on the goal of building more sustainable communities, reinforcing infrastructure, mitigating the risks of loss and damage associated with future disasters, and spurring revitalization.
The Governor's Office of Storm Recovery is now working with a variety of municipal, county and non-profit entities on implementing the selected projects. In addition to funding infrastructure projects, GOSR has also disbursed $1 billion to assist storm-affected homeowners through the NY Rising Housing Recovery Program. Established in June 2013, the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery coordinates statewide recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Through its NY Rising Housing Recovery, Small Business, Community Reconstruction, Infrastructure and Rebuild by Design programs — GOSR invests $4.5 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to better prepare New York for extreme weather events. More information about GOSR and its programs is available online at http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/.