The City of Rye, like many communities in Westchester, suffers from chronic sewage leaks from its aged underground network of pipes. When it rains, raw sewage leaks, and sometimes gushes, from these pipes—polluting streets, rivers, brooks and ultimately Long Island Sound.
This winter our Western Sound team spent 4 months tracking and advocating for the clean-up of an ongoing sewage leak that was flowing 24/7 in Rye. Thanks to a concerned citizen, the overflow was reported to our team in December. We don’t know when the leak began, but during the 4 months that we monitored it and called for its repair, an estimated 5 million gallons of sewage-contaminated water was discharged into Blind Brook, and ultimately Long Island Sound. We are happy to confirm that the leak has now been fixed.
- Due to pressure from Save the Sound and area residents, the City of Rye repaired a collapsed sewer line that was discharging into Blind Brook in downtown Rye via the stormwater system.
- This sewage overflow in Rye is just one example of the chronic sewer line failures in that community, which are the basis for Save the Sound’s legal action to require sewer line repairs.
- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) shares our concern and has brought its own legal action against the City of Rye for 25 raw sewage overflows reported in the city between 2013 and spring of 2017.
See the CBS, News 12, and Westchester Journal News stories, below:
How Sewage Pollution Reporting Works
In early December 2017, Save the Sound’s Mamaroneck office received a pollution report from a concerned resident reporting a constant, gray, smelly flow into a storm drain in the City of Rye, New York.
Save the Sound’s Water Quality Program Manager, Peter Linderoth, investigated the scene on December 7. He confirmed what appeared to be untreated sewage and collected samples. Our lab tests showed elevated levels of bacteria associated with sewage pollution. We promptly sent a full report to Westchester County, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the City of Rye.
Over the next 12 weeks, we made sure the City of Rye could not ignore this sewage. Based on flow measurements, our scientists estimate that over 5 million gallons of sewage-polluted water discharged into Blind Brook.
After much pressure, the City took action and their investigation identified a complex scenario involving buried pipes under I-95. We are pleased to report that the pipes are fixed. In late March, Save the Sound visited the site again and took samples (at the intersection of Locust Ave/Thomas Frend Ave). Although the water continues to discharge at a fast rate, test results show low levels of bacteria. Meaning a win for Long Island Sound and area neighborhoods!!
Through our ongoing legal action, Save the Sound attorneys continue to press the City of Rye and other Westchester Sound shore communities to complete their sanitary sewer system investigations. The municipalities must identify deficient pipes that need to be repaired or replaced to end the sewage contamination plaguing our waterways. In this way, our federal Clean Water Act case is driving much needed long-term investments in clean water.
Restoring your birthright to clean water requires both a thorough response to pollution reports and a comprehensive plan to stop future pipe failures.