BY JOE OLENICK firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — A state of emergency has been declared by Mayor Michael W. Tucker for the City of Lockport Wastewater Treatment Plant on West Jackson Street.
But while there are issues at the plant, none of them pose an immediate threat to the public or the environment, Tucker said Friday.
Instead, the emergency declaration will help get the facility repaired faster. The move gives the city the legal basis to have a contractor come in Monday for repairs, quicker than the normal process of going out to bid the project, which would take up to six weeks.
And with rain in the forecast for most of next week, fixing the plant sooner than later is preferred. Tucker said normally the wastewater facility runs with two chambers, one acting as a backup. One of the chambers broke down during the June 28 flood.
”We suffered a lot of damage there,” Tucker said. “We’re slowly getting back on our feet... but we are a little concerned. It needs to be fixed.”
The wastewater facility can operate with one chamber, but if something were to happen the city would be in trouble, Tucker said.
While the city has spoken with the Federal Emergency Management Agency concerning the wastewater plant, there is still no indication when FEMA will be sending its residential assessment team to Lockport. Tucker said he expects the team to arrive within the next week, but no date has been set.
Back on June 28, about five inches of rain fell over the city in a few hours, straining the city’s combined sanitary-storm wastewater treatment system beyond capacity. The result was the flooding of streets, basements and the complete submerging of Market Street.
Lockport firefighters and volunteers from 16 area companies joined forces to pump out more than 600 basements overnight Friday and Saturday.
Officials have advanced a citywide damage estimate of $7.2 million, including $6 million in private property losses and $1.2 million in municipal emergency response costs and public property losses.
An estimated $250,000 worth of damage was done at the wastewater treatment plant, where two key pieces of equipment, a grit collector and a water clarifying tank, broke down during the storm.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.