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Tropical Heat, Sinkhole Taxing Albany’s Water

As crews continue working to repair the broken water main at the site of a sinkhole on South Lake Avenue at Elberon place, the city of Albany is directing residents to conserve water.

It's a worst-case scenario: workers braving heat and humidity, eyes on the sky as they proceed with repairs to a vital main that feeds water to a thirsty city. Water Commissioner Joe Coffey:    "We have a lot of moving parts. Things have slowed down a little bit visibly, I think, for the observer looking aboveground. We are just really kinda watching and waiting. The rainfall yesterday and the forecast for the next three or four days is suggesting we're likely gonna get some periodic heavy rainfall that has an impact on what we can do. We don't wanna start doing some work and then find it all disturbed or damaged or destroyed by another rainfall that can elevate the water level in the excavation."

Coffey anticipates delivery of a liner on Tuesday that will make way for the final water main repair, with the expectation it will be complete by the 24th. A couple of flood mitigation projects are on the agenda: one in the Ryckman Avenue area off Woodlawn and another on Elberon Place.  "It's gonna be a new 5-foot diameter sewer that's gonna go from Quail Street down to Washington Park Lake. That's gonna be picking up separated strorm water from Quail Street and the storm water on the 9-acre Elberon drainage area, taking that clean storm water down to Washington Park Lake.  We've actually ordered some of that 5-foot pipe in the event that we're able to get some of that in the ground as we do the repairs here at Lake Avenue."

To expedite sinkhole repairs, the major water transmission main that brings water from Albany's treatment plant in Feura Bush to the Loudonville Reservoir, has been turned off. The city issued water restrictions. You can still water your garden, by hand, but there is to be NO lawn watering of any kind, no car washing or hosing of driveways or sidewalks and no filling of swimming pools.   And that includes the South End's largest respite from the snap of scorching summer heat, Lincoln Park Pool. Mayor Kathy Sheehan:    "With restrictions in place, we just can't open that pool, and hope to make sure that we have water for all of our residents and institutions here in the city. And with Lincoln Park Pool being closed we were very concerned about residents being able to access some cool water and to be able to cool off so thanks to the Albany City School District they've opened the Myers Middle School pool. We're providing lifeguards and bus transportation from Lincoln Pool out to the Myers pool as well as the Mater Christi pool and I hope people will take advantage of that and take it easy. It's going to be very hot for the next few days."

Buses are running half hour from noon and 6 p.m. between Lincoln Park Pool to Myers on Whitehall Road and Mater Christi Pool on New Scotland Road.   "We have three pools that are open. The Myers pool, the Mater Christi pool and the Arbor Hill pool. We've extended the hours at the Arbor Hill pool, it's gonna be open until 8 p.m., so it's open a bit later in the evening, it normally closes at 6, so we're doing what we can to provide places for people to cool off.

Albany's 11 spray pads around the city remain open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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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