The extreme cold is giving the city’s water infrastructure a beating. A total of 14 water-main breaks took place during the deep freeze earlier this month.
“The water-main breaks haven’t stopped,” City of Newburgh Water Superintendent Wayne Vradenburgh said in an email Monday, when crews were working on a new main break on Courtney Avenue.
Other water main breaks have occurred on Hasbrouck Street, Ann Street, William Street, Broadway, Lutheran Street, Third Street and Liberty Street, among other streets. Vradenburgh described interruptions in water service as “minimal.”
As of Tuesday, all service had been restored, he said. “This winter has been (harsher) than previous winters, due to the low temperatures and the drastic fluctuations in temperatures,” the water superintendent said.
In addition to the extreme cold, he said, the city’s 100-year-old infrastructure is “a recipe for break after break.” Water-department staff have been “pushed to extreme levels” with the breaks and the city’s water-plant shutdowns due to Catskill Aqueduct repair work. “They have met the challenge and excelled,” Vradenburgh said.
The city has embarked on numerous water-infrastructure improvement projects in recent years. In 2017, the city purchased a valve-turning truck to allow water-department staff to begin a valve-exercising program, city Engineer Jason Morris said. “The exercising of the valves on the water mains under the streets is critical to enable the shutdown of water mains during breaks, to minimize impacts to water-supply customers,” he stated Tuesday. This technology will allow the city to determine which valves need replacement, he said.
The city was recently awarded $544,745 in funding from the New York State Department of Health for the replacement of lead water-service lines. Details of the lead service-line replacement program will be announced by the city in the coming months, Morris said.
In April last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, allocating $1.5 billion in grants for local governments to improve water infrastructure. The city will be “looking at aggressively” obtaining some of this funding, Vradenburgh said.
By SHANTAL RILEY