Gary Sheffer The Knickerbocker News
Section: MAIN,  Page: 3A

Date: Tuesday, June 16, 1987

There's another leak in Albany's Washington Park lake.

Last spring, a cracked spillway was the culprit and the repair bill was $20,000. This spring, the suspects are a 70-foot-tall copper beech tree on the south side of the five- acre pond and more cracks near the spillway. The cost of eliminating the new leaks is about $10,000, according to city officials.

City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Richard Barrett said Monday the lake never rose to the level he and others expected after the spillway at the east end of the lake was fixed in 1986. Before that repair, paid for through a federal grant obtained by the nonprofit Washington Park Conservancy, the lake had been 2 or 3 feet below its normal depth of 9 to 10 feet.

After the spillway cracks were sealed, the lake still was about a foot below the level of the spillway.

"We knew we must have had a leak somewhere," Barrett said, adding he and crews from his department subsequently noticed severe erosion under the beech tree on the south side of the lake, just west of the footbridge that spans the lake.

An inspection of maps in the city engineer's office showed that a 19th- century brick sewer runs parallel to the south side of the lake. An inspection found some of the sewer wall had collapsed and that lake water was gushing into the system.

"There's actually a sinkhole in the side of the lake," Barrett said.

The hole in the sewer apparently was caused by the roots of the tree. When the sewer wall went, so did the underside of the bank of the lake.

"You've got that 70-foot-tall tree on top of a 5- foot sewer and, apparently, the sewer just couldn't take it," Barrett said.

Repairs to the sewer wall were completed Friday and the tree will stay, according to George Nealon, acting public works commissioner.

"The big void under the tree still has to be filled with some grout material," Nealon said Monday.

The work was done by Firstrhyme Construction Co. of Clifton Park for about $10,000, he said.

That work also included some repairs to a leaky pipe leading away from the spillway toward Madison Avenue, he said. It did not involve the area repaired last year.

The spillway is a concrete shaft that controls the water in the lake and allows it to spill off after it reaches a certain level.

Sometime later this week, hydrants will be opened on the lake to restore it to its proper level and the water will be watched carefully to see if all the leaks have been plugged, Nealon said.