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Congressman Tonko Visits Troy Water Main Break Site

Congressman Paul Tonko toured the Lansingburgh site where crews are repairing a 110-year old 33-inch water main that ruptured over the weekend.

Work to repair Troy's major water main is continuing today. Mayor Patrick Madden was joined at the dig by Congressman Paul Tonko, who vows to help the Collar City see its way through the fiscal challenge.

Tonko had met with Madden a few days before the main ruptured on Sunday to address drinking water infrastructure.    "I am the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee of environment and the economy. And we have through the last several months, better part of a year, have been advancing this notion of investing in the hidden infrastructure. Often times out of sight out of mind.  We have a tremendously aged infrastructure in our drinking water system.  We have in some cases, inventory that has been no longer kept up to date. We have systems that include wooden pipes. We have over 140-year-old infrastructure in this given congressional district.  With pipe bursts we have lost millions of gallons of water. And so this is yet another example of a national problem that requires national solutions."

Tonko promised to "search high and low" for a solution. He is pressing his peers to devise a national plan to speak to America's drinking water infrastructure and sewer systems. He envisions a multi-billion dollar program linking the two into a massive national infrastructure investment. Just days into his term, Madden is all for the idea...  "What we witness here is a good illustration of how a breakdown ripples through the system. We have communities across the river where kids can't go to school. We have businesses across the river where people can't go to work today because of this breakdown. This can happen and will happen throughout the Northeast repeatedly if we don't find away to address this aging infrastructure. We're now seeing you know you don't miss the water until the well runs dry is the old saying and now we're seeing what happens with a catastrophic failure like this. It  ripples across two counties and impacts a good number of people."

Impacted towns, including Waterford and Halfmoon, are receiving about 10 percent of the normal water allotment from Troy.  “So the repair involves welding a collar around the pipe at about a 7-foot stand, and then two sections of rolled metal will be clamshelled over that and welded to it, so we’ll basically be welding a new pipe over the breach.”  Madden notes city tankers are hauling water to the town, but all of the problems associated with the rupture are far from solved.  "With a pipe this large, it's gonna take a good 48 hours to charge the system and get everything back to normal again. It's a very tricky operation now, and it will be a tricky operation even when the welding is done. So if we can get the welding done in a couple of days, and we are working 24/7 at this point, it's still gonna take a little bit of time to get the water flowing properly again."

Madden was unable to provide a cost estimate, nor could he say how much money Troy is losing each day it does not provide water to the surrounding towns it counts as customers. The Troy City Council will be acting on a grant application to replace the section of water line where the pipe cracked when they meet Thursday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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