ALBANY — The Albany City Commission approved a measure Tuesday that will give City Manager Sharon Subadan the authority to approve up to $1.5 million in emergency spending to perform needed repairs on 10 of the 108 lift stations in the city’s sewer system.
The funding calls for repairs, upgrades and even pump replacements at lift stations 11, 22, 25, 26, 27, 66, 81, 82, 83 and 88. Those elements of the city’s system are the ones that “potentially have the most environmental impact,” according to Assistant City Manager Phil Roberson.
Subadan reiterated the “three-pronged approach” to tackling the city’s faltering infrastructure concerns that she’d outlined for the city’s Utilities Board at its most recent meeting. The first “leg of the stool,” she told commissioners Tuesday, is to “deal with our immediate concerns.”
“We need to fix these things that are most likely to impact the (Flint) river,” Subadan said. “As I’ve said all along, getting our infrastructure in the condition it needs to be in is a marathon, not a sprint. When you keep kicking something like this down the road, you have to keep in mind that at some point you’ll pay the piper. It’s that time for us.”
Subadan said the second phase of the city’s plan is to get a “complete report” from Jacobs Engineering, which is contracted by the city to maintain the system, on all 108 lift stations.
“We expect that report in the next 30 days,” Subadan said.
The third step, she noted, is a comprehensive engineering report on the city’s entire underground infrastructure.
Ward I City Commissioner Jon Howard questioned Subadan about potential fines the city faces for sewer failures that allowed tens of thousands of gallons of raw sewage to make its way into the Flint. She said the city has complied with EPD requirements and will continue to talk with agency officials about the city’s plan to address its infrastructure issues.
Subadan also said, in response to a question from Howard, that Jacobs officials have assured the city that they would “step up to the plate” in the event there are fines that resulted from their actions.
Jacobs’ Kyle Holder outlined for the commission what steps the company has taken to lessen the threat of future spills.
Roberson emphasized the need for immediacy in the action sought by city management.
“If you approve this today,” he said before the vote, “we will start ordering parts today. We’re focusing on these 10 lift stations because we feel that they’re the ones that could have the most impact on the river. It’s kind of like triage; we need to take care of our more urgent needs now.”
Roberson said new pumps would be needed for stations 22, 25, 26, 27 and 83.
The board voted 6-0 to approve the funding.