A struggling sewage plant in Binghamton will get a $30.3 million state loan to make repairs after a wall collapsed in 2011 and then heavily damaged in Tropical Storm Lee later that year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce today.
There are 12 Broome County municipalities that use the sewage plant, and repairs may cost more than $160 million when completed by 2017.
Cuomo said the $30 million loan will be mostly interest free and will help lower the cost of the repairs, which will include a flood wall to prevent damage from future storms. The plant serves 120,000 customers.
“We are continuing to build back critical infrastructure that serves Binghamton and Johnson City so that the region is stronger and better than before,” Cuomo said in a statement obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “This funding will allow construction to begin on a new flood wall and other critical improvements to this sewage treatment plant which serves 120,000 residents in the region.”
Cuomo said the loan is part of the state’s effort to help communities as they still await federal aid for repairs from three major storms that socked the state in 2011 and 2012.
Nearly $25 million of the state loan will be interest free, Cuomo said.
The Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton has documented an array of problems with the construction of the plant, which is owned by Binghamton and Johnson City.
The May 2011 wall collapse was preceded by warnings about the integrity of the structure, but no immediate changes were made, records showed. More than half a million gallons of wastewater entered the Susquehanna River after the collapse.
That was followed by the discharge of more untreated waste into the Susquehanna and the Fuller Hollow Creek when Lee hit.
Cuomo said the loan through the state’s Environmental Facilities Corp. is expected to be the first of two state loans to help in the repairs.
“Our community is still recovering from the devastating flood of 2011,” Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled and thankful to see the governor providing more help to our community. These loans will do much to help repair and improve the Binghamton-Johnson City Sewage Treatment Plant.”
The state is also providing $340 million in interest-free loans and grants for flood-protection projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities in the 14 counties impacted by Superstorm Sandy, which hit downstate in October 2012.