Next Steps to Attacking "Dry Weather Flows:"
Committee Recommends Consultant Engineer

by Judy Silberstein

Ice Dam on the Post Road

(February 5, 2004) This year's record-setting cold snaps are once again creating hazardous icy conditions on Larchmont's streets as a result of "dry weather flow," the streams of water burbling from private properties onto public roadways. The Village of Larchmont’s Committee on the Environment came before the Board of Trustees on February 2 to recommend the next step in attacking the situation: hiring consultant engineer Dolph Rotfeld to supply a specific diagnosis and solution for each of 80 properties identified as having a dry weather flow problem.

Under ordinary conditions, a few extra gallons of water flowing down the street might not create much of a problem. But, take one basement sump pump spewing water into the street; add below freezing temperatures; and what you get is a stream of black ice creating hazards for pedestrians and vehicles alike. “It’s first and foremost a safety issue,” said Carol Casazza Herman, from the Committee on the Environment.

“And secondly an environmental concern,” she added. The Village has been laying down dams of salt to contain the ice, but salt creates other problems, including eroding the roads and damaging plants. Dry weather flows also contribute to polluting Long Island Sound and overtaxing Larchmont’s sewer systems.

“It’s also a liability and legal issue,” said Patty Horing, another committee member.

And its an issue that should involve both the Village and the homeowner, the committee members stressed.

Larchmont is not the only Westchester community facing the problem, but it may be the first to attack it. “You’re blazing a trail,” Engineer Rotfeld told the Board. Mayor Ken Bialo indicated that Rotfeld has served as a Larchmont consultant for years and is one of the “foremost engineers” with public works on the East Coast.

The problems are not a result of changes in the environment, suggested Rotfeld, but instead from improper routing of water away from homes. In the past decade, Larchmont has cracked down on illegal hookups from homes to sanitary sewers. In some cases, homeowners may have disconnected from the sewers, but not properly connected to a legal alternative.

The committee has been working since last year on the dry weather flow problem, with the help of Village Engineer Mike Lepre and consultant Rotfeld. At the November 17 Board meeting Lepre presented a giant map showing 80 problem spots.

Patty Horing and colleague Kevin Ryan presented the committee’s latest findings to the Board and suggested the following actions:

  • Hire Engineer Dolph to look at all 80 properties identified in an earlier survey as contributing to the dry weather flow problem;

  • Develop recommendations for each homeowner, to let everyone know the extent of the problem;

  • Identify whether the problem involves a relatively simple hookup to an existing nearby sewer (a type 1 situation), a more complicated hookup (type 2) or an entirely different approach, such as installation of a drywell (type 3).

Once Rotfeld has developed his diagnostics, the committee will come back with a more specific financial plan for how to deal with what is found.

All this should be accomplished by March, so that there is time to locate contractors and implement solutions before next winter. “There’s no reason we can’t deal with all but a few [homes] that are far from a tie-in,” said Ryan.

“The timetable is ambitious,” admitted Ms. Casazza Herman, “But it’s what we have to aim for. We need some improvement for next winter.”

“We feel the Village of Larchmont should play a role,” said Horing. Specifically, at this point, the committee believes the Village should hire and pay for the services of the engineer.

The Board considered the committee’s recommendation, and will be acting upon it as soon as it receives an estimate of the costs.

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