FEMA Check for Local Sewage Plant Finally Arrives

By Erika Mahoney

February 5, 2013 Updated Feb 5, 2013 at 8:38 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It's been nearly seven years since water rushed through the Southern Tier during the 2006 flood.

But since then, the pace of millions of dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursements to needed repairs has been barely a trickle.

Meanwhile, the Binghamton-Johnson City Joint Sewage Treatment plant must operate.

Late last month, officials received the $4.4 million reimbursement check on which they have been waiting for years.

This isn't the first aid provided by the federal government, but it is the largest.

Binghamton City Council members said depositing the check was a relief, but the wait has been frustrating.

"It's very frustrating because the plant has to run," said Binghamton City Councilman Jerry Motsavage. "It has to serve us as well as Johnson City. We've got to make all the repairs and if the check had come in faster, we could have paid our bonds a lot quicker."

Officials are still waiting for nearly $1.1 million dollars. There's no word on when it will be sent.

Motsavage said he hopes aid comes through more quickly for damage encountered during the 2011 flood, especially as they are preparing for the facility's repair work, which he said could be a four-year long project.

The embattled plant is the county's largest. In May 2011, an entire wall of a sewage-processing cell collapsed, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of partially treated wastewater into a nearby stream that leads to the Susquehanna River.

Officials said they knew about the wall's weakened integrity for months, but nothing was ever done. The matter is now the subject of lawsuits and insurance claims.