FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14-42
May 16, 2014
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Department of Environmental Protection Provides Update on April 30, 2014 Queens / Brooklyn Flooding Event
On April 30th, 2014 more than five inches of rain fell on New York City; it was the tenth wettest day ever recorded. While several areas experienced some flooding, the neighborhoods bordering Spring Creek and Ralph Creek were particularly hard hit. The day of the storm, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection dispatched crews to New Lots and Lindenwood to evaluate whether the local drainage and wastewater collection systems operated at full capacity. DEP determined that its Spring Creek Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Facility on Flatlands Avenue did not function as intended.
The Spring Creek facility, which went into service in the mid-1970s, contains large tanks that can store up to 20 million gallons of rainfall and wastewater. The facility is only used when rainfall rates are so great that the capacity of the two nearby treatment plants is exceeded. Excess wastewater is then diverted into the Spring Creek retention facility, to be temporarily stored until the storm ends.
The April 30th storm produced so much rain that it exceeded the capacity of the 26th Ward and Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plants, and the Spring Creek facility also reached its storage limit late that evening. When the tanks at Spring Creek can no longer accept more flow, the system is designed to release excess water directly into Jamaica Bay. This untreated wastewater is called combined sewer overflow (“CSO”).
The Spring Creek facility was recently modernized and a series of electronic level sensors and transmitters are now used to determine when excess CSO needs to be released, based upon a number of criteria including the tidal elevations. DEP found that the new electronic system malfunctioned, and releases into the bay did not promptly occur. As a result, stormwater and wastewater backed up into streets and homes in parts of the New Lots and Lindenwood neighborhoods.
Following the flooding event, City officials went door to door and distributed Department of Health literature about mold prevention, and claims forms that allow residents to seek reimbursement for damages. These forms must be filed with the Comptroller within 90 days of the event.
Work is continuing to fully identify and correct the equipment malfunction. Until that work is completed and tested, DEP staff will monitor and manually operate the facility during storms.
DEP will seek recovery of damages from any and all responsible parties to the extent possible under applicable contracts and law.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.4 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with nearly $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. This capital program is responsible for critical projects like City Water Tunnel No. 3; the Staten Island Bluebelt program, an ecologically sound and cost-effective stormwater management system; the city’s Watershed Protection Program, which protects sensitive lands upstate near the city’s reservoirs in order to maintain their high water quality; and the installation of more than 820,000 Automated Meter Reading devices, which will allow customers to track their daily water use, more easily manage their accounts and be alerted to potential leaks on their properties. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/nycwater, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/nycwater.