Water & Water Supply

Quail Street Green Infrastructure Project
Public Presentation to the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association
February 19, 2015
View presentation here

Backwater Valve Grant Program
Backwater Valve Application Packet

The Department of Water and Water Supply experienced leadership and management transition with a new Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Fiscal Officer arriving at the Department in 2014. Our new management team emphasized three primary Core Values; Safety, Customer Service and Professionalism. If we focus on these three core values and execute our duties and responsibilities, the Department will be in the best position to serve our customers, work safely and promote teamwork.  

Our Vision Statement is: We are a $35 million business enterprise with over 30,000 customers. We are stewards of one of the most valuable surface water sources in the Northeast

With our Vision Statement and Core Values defined, the Department developed a Mission Statement and Goals to support the basis for our Business plan and future budgets and investments.

Mission Statement – The Department of Water and Water Supply will deliver a reliable and high quality supply of water to our customers, including fire protection; we will collect and safely convey wastewater to treatment facilities and comply with all of our regulatory permit requirements and conditions; we will provide a safe work environment for our employees; we will provide courteous, responsive and professional service to our customers and a work environment that is supportive and respectful of each other.


  • We will supply water to our customers with 100% reliability (quality and quantity)
  • We will maintain our system and plan future improvements to our system to keep 100% of the sanitary sewage “in the pipes”
  • We will train our staff and operate our facilities to achieve 100% compliance with all regulatory permit conditions and requirements
  • We will emphasize safety training and workplace performance and behaviors to strive for no missed work days resulting from work place injuries
  • We will invest as stewards to protect and preserve the long-term functionality of our infrastructure, including creating a detailed inventory of fixed assets to be updated annually to account for new and rehabilitated assets
  • We will explore opportunities for revenue enhancement thru active management of our natural resources (e.g. account for all water produced, logging, fishing permits, concession stand at 6 Mile, bottling water, etc.)
  • We will undertake planning for future rehabilitation, adaptive re-use or replacement of the Feura Bush Filtration Plant, which has been in continuous use since 1930. While this planning is underway, we will undertake necessary measures for continued functionality and safety of the facility
  • We will invest and incorporate technology to increase operational efficiency (e.g. leak detection)
  • We will align staffing with department functions and operational needs to satisfy our mission and achieve 100% customer satisfaction.
  • Increase and improve training and professional development to create advancement opportunities for all staff with emphasis in identifying and developing the next generation of operators and leaders thru training, civil service exams and mentoring.
  • We will create an archive of documents of fixed assets that will include a searchable digital version and secured, environmentally controlled storage for historic hard copies.
  • We will implement performance based metrics aligned with department goals and track as key performance indicators
  • We will administer the City of Albany MS4 program (Municipal Separated Storm Sewer Systems) to protect natural watercourses from pollution.
  • We will respond to flooding problems, including assisting the City of Albany with the maintenance and repair of drainage systems, review of new projects in regard to grading and runoff, and review of flood risks and mitigation.
  • We will undertake planning for future water, sewer and storm water infrastructure needs for new development in the City of Albany.

The Department also identified and uses a series of performance measures that we call Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that are measured and tracked. They are identified as follows:

Key Performance Indicators

  • Water/Sewer Revenue
  • Operating Expenses
  • Net Operating Cash Flow
  • Net Cash Flow (after Debt Service and Capital Project expenses)
  • Water Produced
  • Water Sold
  • Unaccounted Water Produced
  • Overtime (by Unit)
  • Orions Installed (meter conversion program)
  • Incident Reports
  • Water/Sewer Line Breaks & Repairs
  • Locations (provided to contractors and outside utilities)
  • Wastewater Discharges to Albany County Sewer District


We plan to devote key technical staff to: manage the upcoming engineering challenges implementing the Long Term Control Program that is an outcome of the Consent Order to abatement CSO discharges to surface waters; to develop and implement an asset management program to improve preventive maintenance and systematic system upgrades and infrastructure replacement; to address anticipated water treatment plant process improvements to meet future regulatory requirements; to meet customer water and sewer needs in portions of our service area that are seeing increased development ( e.g. UAlbany, SUNY Polytechnic, Harriman Campus), and to increase the Department’s response to flood mitigation efforts


In 2015, we will continue our preventive maintenance and leak detection programs.  This program includes systematic leak detection in our distribution system, testing valves and hydrants; replacement of hydrants and valves that do not meet our specifications.  

In 2014, our leak detection program tested 722 city blocks; 17 Leaks were detected - 10 leaks were repaired by AWD personnel; including 2 main breaks, 6 service terminations, 1 hydrant repair and 1 service repair. 3 main repairs were made by our emergency contractor and 4 leaks are being further investigated. 

In 2014, our Transmission and Distribution staff repaired 52 water main breaks, performed 10 valve repairs, and installed 3 valves; replaced 12 hydrants and repaired 5 hydrants; repaired 75 services and terminated 33 services.

Our metering staff installed 5543 Orion meters in 2014, and our goal is to have all Orion meters installed by the end of 2015. 


Our filter plant was constructed in 1932. In 2014, we treated an average of 19.2 million gallons per day of water from the Alcove. In 2014, we initiated a structural assessment of multiple structural elements of the filter plant, including the entrance steps, roofing system and building envelope. We will complete repairs to the entrance steps and complete roof replacement and miscellaneous structural repairs to the plant in 2015. We have also made investments in our laboratory to replace equipment that was outdated. 


We are continuing to expand the preventive maintenance program for our sewer system. In 2014, we completed:

  • 137,847 feet of mainline sewer jetting
  • 21,477 feet of mainline sewer root cutting
  • 9,399 feet of mainline sewer camera investigation
  • 322 feet of mainline sewer repair
  • 55 Manhole repairs
  • 74 catch basin repairs
  • 134 catch basins cleaned

In 2015, we will increase the utilization of our camera truck and expand the camera investigation of our mainline sewers. We purchased an additional sewer jet/vac truck to increase our preventive maintenance program and assure we are maintaining the capacity of our sewers.


In 2014, our Restoration Division completed:

  • 31 lawn restorations
  • 55 concrete pours (sidewalk panels)
  • 22 driveway restorations (asphalt)
  • 5 brick restorations
  • 120 road patches (asphalt)


Our Backwater Valve grant program has been extended as we continue our public outreach to raise awareness of this program. We have included $100,000 in our 2015 budget proposal to continue the backwater valve program, which provides a $1,500 grant to qualified owner-occupied single or two-family residential properties that have evidence of past backups.  To date, we have approved the installation of 315 backwater valves at a total cost of $403,405.  


The 2014 Budget contained a $2,000,000 capital expense for sewer line and water main replacement or rehabilitation. Notable among our Capital projects in 2014 was the construction of new water lines on Albany Shaker Road to increase pressure for customers that were impacted by very low water pressure for many years. We also built a rain garden on Pinewood Ave and Hackett Blvd. as our first green infrastructure project. We also completed the Upper Washington Ave./Melrose recharge basin project in 2014. 

In order to properly maintain and upgrade aging water and sewer systems, an aggressive capital project plan is essential.  Since 1994, we have expended over $50 million in capital improvements to our water and sewer systems.  Although this may seem liked a tremendous amount of money, it pales in comparison to the actual needs of our water and sewer system whose replacement value exceeds $3 billion.   Our capital program is funded from our operating budget. This level of capital investment will be increased to $3,000,000 in 2015 to expand efforts to improve our infrastructure and our 2015 budget includes efforts to develop a formal asset management program and strategy for future infrastructure management, rehabilitation and replacement.

The 2015 capital plan for water includes improvements at the Feura Bush filtration facility, the Alcove and Reservoir, the Supply Conduit and Transmission Main, and various water distribution system improvements. The 2015 capital plan for sewers includes sewer lining and rehabilitation projects pump station and various sewer system improvements. We also will be evaluating the construction of additional stormwater retention basins for flood mitigation.

Flood Mitigation – The severe flooding experienced in the City in July and August 2014 has continued to focus attention on the need to address flooding and flood mitigation strategies. Working with Common Council members, the Water Department conducted two community meetings to gather information and input on these recent events to assist us in developing an approach to flood mitigation.  We have initiated dialog with FEMA, have mapped the recent flooding events on our GIS, will model our Large Trunk Sewer systems to explore capacity to accept storm events of various intensity/durations, and identify and map special flood hazard areas within the City to complement the FEMA Flood insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) published in 2015.  We will also work with other Departments to assure all projects in flood hazard zones are reviewed and evaluated in the context of our Building Codes and FEMA regulations. 

Among the initial areas to be evaluated for sewer improvement or other form of mitigation include, but are not limited to: Elberon Place; Sheridan Ave at Chapel St.; Ryckman Ave.; Hansen Ave.; Warren St.; South Pearl at Arch St.; Lincoln Park; Hackett Blvd.; Myrtle Ave. at South Manning and Marion Aves.; area near Bishop Maginn H.S.; area along Second Ave.

The Albany Water Board will expend funds to address flood mitigation. We also are currently exploring flood mitigation for Elberon Place concurrently with the Quail St Green Infrastructure project that will go to construction in 2015. We are reviewing several options for flood mitigation for Elberon Place with our Consultant Engineer for the Quail St project and will be able to assess the feasibility and funding of these potential options during Q4 2014.


Water rates in Albany are established by the Albany Water Board and the current rate schedule adopted in September 2012. An average residential water bill, based on about 70,000 gallons usage per year, is about $253, not including sewer charges.

The Albany Water Board also established a sewer rate that is 100 percent of water rates.  The Board collects that money to both fund our sewer programs, and to pay Albany County to process the City’s sewerage.  In 2013, the amount paid to Albany County by the Albany Water Board was $6.2 million, and we expect the 2014 payment to the County Sewer District was $5.8 million. We have budgeted $6,050,000 for 2015 payment to the County Sewer District to reflect the anticipated impact of the Long term Control Plan on the District’s 2015 charges to the City.


Our most significant risks to service delivery are with the increasing age of our infrastructure. As the system ages, the reliability factor is challenged by water main breaks and sewer line failures. Our source and transmission main do not have redundancy and that is a challenge when we take them out of service for maintenance or repair. These risks also are budget risks if they exceed what we budget for repairs based on historical experience. We are planning to mitigate this risk with emergency interconnections with our neighboring water systems and are currently exploring and/or expanding these relationships.

As we continue to explore flood mitigation, short term and long term mitigation solutions will have a financial impact that will need to be considered in the context of our rate structure and alternative project financing. Also, the financial impact of the Long Term Control Plan on our Budget is expected to be defined with more clarity later in 2015 and that will also provide some basis for reviewing our rate structure and future financing plans for LTCP implementation.

Our Revenue stream is essentially entirely rate based. We will continue to explore and investigate additional revenue opportunities moving forward.


The property owner contracts with a licensed plumber for the construction of a new water service. There is a fee to the Albany Water Board for tapping the water main and also a fee for a water meter. These fees vary according to the size of the service. Contact customer service at 518-434-5300.

Contact InformationPort of Albany

10 North Enterprise Drive Albany, NY 12204
DISPATCH: (518) 434-5322  
(518) 434-5300 (7:30 a.m.-12 midnight, Monday - Friday) 
(518) 462-4004 (12 midnight-7:30 a.m., weekends & holidays) 
Fax: (518) 434-5332