ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) - On Tuesday, July 3rd the DEC notified the public raw sewage was spilled into the Chemung River Monday evening.
The Executive Director of Chemung County Sewer Districts says the cause of the spill was from the high intensity rainfall that that was built up in the river's piping system, due to Monday night's storm.
"Because of the amount so quickly, it sometimes builds up to where it maxs out the capacity and we have certain relief points that allow the relief to overflow into the river. So that it doesn't overflow into our streets or basements," says Matthew Hourihan, Executive Director of Chemung County Sewer Districts.
Hourihan says they were not able to notify the public until Tuesday morning because of a new system that was installed. Hourihan added, "Our ultra sonic level sensors right now are working through the issues to tell us, send us text messages and emails of when these things happen. We're working through that right now with a company that provided those ultra sonic sensors and the next overflow events we will be able to determine when they're happening and report them in that 2 hour window of our requirement."
According to the DEC, the first discharge overflow involved estimated 550,000 gallons. The second discharge overflow included an estimated 677,000 gallons. With the last overflow of 30-thousand gallons happening at 9 PM Monday. In total- 1-million-257-thousand gallons was discharged into the river. However, Hourihan says its not over a million gallons of raw sewage, that the majority of the spill is water from the storm mixed in with only some waste water. But, he says there's no lingering impact on drinking water supplies, any fish or wildlife or use of the river for swimming or boating once the overflow is completed.
"You don't want to be enjoying the river at these particular locations at the time of the overflows," says Hourihan.
Hourihan says once the overflow is over, the public can use the river. Unfortunately, future discharge like this can not be prevented according to Hourihan.