Raw sewage spills into the Saddle River

April 8, 2022 Raw sewage spills into the Saddle River

On April 8, 2022, at the Saddle River Swim and Tennis site on East Saddle River Road, the manhole near the parking area unloaded a massive spill of untreated sewage that ran down a slope alongside the tennis courts and emptied into the Saddle River, a federally protected stream. This is the same location that saw a number of like spills, which triggered the filing of a million-dollar lawsuit on March 31, 2014 against the Rockland County Sewer District #1 by the Borough of Upper Saddle River.

At the bottom of the slope, this bridge crosses the stream, and it’s here that the spill diverts to empty into the waterway.

The successful lawsuit successful under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and state common law. The Borough alleged that in the course of operating a sewage treatment facility on the site, Rockland County Sewer District #1 has polluted–and will likely continue to pollute–the Saddle River. At around the same time there were repeated sewer overflows on South Monsey Road a short distance up the street. It was assumed by many that a primary cause was extensive development in the area that overwhelmed the infrastructure capacities.

The Vice Chairman of the Sewer District at the time was Ramapo’s Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, who later served a federal prison term for bond fraud related to his baseball park project.

The judge who determined the ultimate price for the polluting the stream began with a maximum $25,000 fine per spill in his considerations. These are not minor incidents.

It should be noted that April 8 saw one of the most intense recent downpours in our area. However, extensive local construction on Hillside Avenue which involves deforestation might be a contributing cause. It’s a situation that merits continued watching.

Michael Castelluccio