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Morristown continues to grapple with malfunctioning sewer system

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MORRISTOWN — Even as temperatures begin to rise, the town of Morristown is still working to thaw and fix frozen sewer units attached to the nearly two-year-old River Road East system.

Village Superintendent of Public Works Kevin J. Crosby, who has been working with the town to fix the broken units, said about six units have frozen up this year, some of them repeatedly.

In one case, Mr. Crosby said, the 6-foot-deep grinder unit was frozen solid along with the lateral line that runs through the ground.

“This is obviously getting cold air,” Mr. Crosby said, adding that fully insulating the system likely will be the best option.

The new sewer system, with 100 grinders and pumps, was installed in 2012 and cost the town about $3.8 million.

The project was engineered by C2AE, Canton, and installed by North Country Contractors, Henderson.

Because the installation warranty expired in the fall, town employees are being called in to fix each of the broken units, Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said.

Mr. Crosby said they are attempting to do as much of the work as possible during the workweek to avoid racking up overtime hours, though he said they sometimes get calls during the weekend about broken units that require immediate attention.

Adding to the cost, some of the broken units require constant supervision to ensure they continue to work properly.

In two cases, Mr. Crosby said, town employees are having to manually pump out grinder units on a daily or every-other-day basis.

“It’s not just a little problem,” he said of the frozen grinders.

As of January, Mr. Crosby said, the town had sunk $2,000 to $3,000 into fixing units.

A more accurate estimate will be available once the snow melts completely.

Mr. Putman said the town is compiling a record of each unit it fixes, including what was wrong and how long it took.

The record is being sent to C2AE, Mr. Putman said, so that the engineering firm has a firm grasp of the severity of the situation and where the serious problems are.

Mr. Putman said the town is considering its options regarding who is ultimately going to pay for the work.

Regarding the problems with the system, Town Councilor David VanArnam said, “Something was missed in the engineering design or the installation.”

Mr. VanArnam said the town needs to hold whichever entity is at fault to account.

Last year, more than 20 units reported problems.

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