Sewage discharges into Hudson River prompt health advisories
Officials in Westchester and Rockland counties are warning people to avoid contact with the Hudson River after flood-related shutdowns at wastewater treatment plants resulted in discharges of raw sewage into the waterway.
In Westchester, the Department of Environmental Facilities shut down the Crotonville Pump Station at 10:05 a.m. Tuesday due to flooding. As a result, untreated sewage is entering the Hudson River from the Croton River on the Croton-Ossining border, Caren Halbfinger, Westchester's director of public health information, said in a statement.
"We don't really expect people to be out in the water now anyway, but there's always someone who decides to go out," she said. "We're talking about recreational activities such as swimming, boating, kayaking and windsurfing."
The sewage discharge followed a similar release Monday night from the North Yonkers pump station, which was also flooded, she said. And the Department of Environmental Facilities asked Con Edison to cut power to the Yonkers Wastewater Treatment Plant due to flooding in the plant, to protect both equipment and the safety of employees.
"Nobody likes to have this happen but with this much rain it's unavoidable," Halbfinger said.
Rockland County health officials issued a similar advisory on the sewage releases, although there were no discharges from that side of the river.
Officials did not provide estimates of how much raw sewage has been released.
"We don't have a fix on that yet because it's still ongoing," Halbfinger said. "It's going to be millions of gallons."
The sewage will eventually dissipate, officials said, but in the interim people should avoid direct contact.
"The Hudson River is a substantial water body with substantial flow, particularly with a storm situation," said Daniel Miller, with the Rockland County Board of Health. "So eventually it dissipates and makes its way out to the ocean."