Grease blocks Potsdam pipes causing sewage backup on village streets

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 4:47 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - A couple of times this week, grease clogged sections of Potsdam pipes resulting in the backup of a couple thousand gallons of sewage on village roads.

State records indicate some of the sewage may go into the nearby Racquette River.

“Normally, when they do occur, we report them to the appropriate agency through the state to let them know that it has occurred. We immediately then send DPW personnel up to clean up the spillage. Again, both spillages were linked to direct grease plugs in our sewer line,” said Potsdam Village Administrator Gregory Thompson.

Thursday was the most recent clog. The village’s Department of Public Works crews have had to flush out the pipes on Barclay Street and Hillcrest Drive.

What’s noticeable to officials is the problem is occurring in the same area of the village, and has happened on and off for a year.

Thompson says that the buildup of grease is linked to SUNY Potsdam.

“We are also in discussions with SUNY Potsdam in regards to installing what’s called a grinder pump, which would help to grind all the grease and debris up prior to it entering our system as it departs from the SUNY Potsdam system and would alleviate the issue of the blockages occurring in those areas,” he said.

SUNY Potsdam wants to find a solution too.

In a statement, a university representative said, “SUNY Potsdam and PACES Dining Services have reviewed our campus operations to help ensure that we are reducing the output of any solids or grease into sewer lines as much as possible. We will continue to work with the village to identify any other solutions that might be available to minimize our impacts on the system.”

In the meantime, the village will look at using watertight manhole covers on both Barclay Street and Hillcrest Drive to mitigate having sewage spill onto the roadways.