FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 16-19
March 25, 2016
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$22 Million Bronx Sewer Upgrade to Begin in the Spring and Substantially Reduce Pollution in Westchester Creek
Project Will Prevent Approximately 400 Million Gallons of Combined Sewer Overflow Annually
A Map of the Project Area is Available on DEP’s Flickr Page
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd today announced that work will commence this spring on a $22 million sewer upgrade project that modeling shows will prevent approximately 400 million gallons of pollution from being discharged into Westchester Creek each year. The subsurface work will take place at two key junction points within the area’s sewer system, located near Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Morris Park, and will raise and lengthen the weirs which direct the wastewater to the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. The work is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019 and DEP will work closely with elected officials and the Community Board to address any construction-related concerns. Details of the project were presented to Community Board 11 on March 21.
“To help protect the environment and improve the quality of life for residents of the Bronx, we will invest $22 million to optimize the capacity of the existing sewer system and significantly reduce the overflow of pollution into Westchester Creek,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “We will also be building hundreds of curbside gardens throughout the area to collect stormwater from the streets and further relieve pressure on the sewers. In combination, we expect these projects will significantly improve the health of local waterways.”
“This is a significant investment in the infrastructure of our borough, one that will lead to a cleaner Westchester Creek and improve the overall quality of the borough’s environment,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I thank Commissioner Emily Lloyd and the Department of Environmental Protection for their commitment to this significant, necessary sewer improvement project.”
“We have a responsibility to continue to do everything we can to make our waterways healthier and safer for the communities that surround them,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “I’m encouraged to see the Department of Environmental Protection make this type of investment in our sewer infrastructure to help protect Westchester Creek in the Bronx. I thank Commissioner Lloyd for undertaking this vitally important project and for implementing these measures to help control the CSO discharges that are so damaging to our waters.”
“Our waterways are a precious resource and I commend the efforts of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in minimizing the impact of overflow wastewater into Westchester Creek,” said Assemblyman Michael R. Benedetto.
“I’m glad that DEP is making infrastructure a priority,” said Council Member James Vacca. “It’s no secret that there is a pollution problem in Westchester Creek. Upgrading the sewer system in the surrounding areas will go a long way towards remedying the pollution issue. I will be monitoring this project closely and will offer any assistance I can to remedy any potential community issues that may arise due to the upgrade.”
Throughout the roughly 7,500 miles of sewers located under the streets of New York City are numerous regulators, or junction points, where wastewater is either directed to a wastewater treatment plant or sent directly to a nearby water body. During a dry weather day, all the wastewater produced in the city, about 1.3 billion gallons on average, gets cleaned at wastewater treatment plants. However, during heavy rain storms, the amount of stormwater entering the combined sewers can exceed the capacity of the system and, in order to avoid backups into homes and businesses, the excess flows over weirs in the regulators and gets diverted to a local water body. This project will upgrade two of the key regulators located within the roughly 16,000-acre Hunts Point drainage area. The subsurface work will include relocating some utilities, expanding the regulator chamber areas in order to raise and lengthen the weirs to direct more wastewater to the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant and any necessary structural repairs. The project is one component of an agreement between DEP and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to improve harbor water quality throughout New York City.
The two regulators slated for upgrades are located at:
- Morris Park Avenue and Eastchester Road
- Eastchester Road north of Waters Place
Over the last decade, DEP has invested more than $10 billion in upgrades to wastewater treatment plants and related efforts to reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) and the cleanliness and health of New York City harbor water continues to improve to levels not seen in more than a century.
However, CSOs remain the city’s primary harbor water quality challenge. To further reduce CSOs, the City launched the Green Infrastructure Plan, an alternative approach to improving water quality that combines traditional infrastructure upgrades, such as the Hunts Point sewer upgrades, and the integration of green infrastructure to capture and retain stormwater runoff before it ever enters the sewer system. In the Westchester Creek area, DEP has roughly 200 specially designed curbside gardens, or bioswales, under design now and more could be added this spring. Bioswales collect and absorb stormwater before it ever reaches the sewer system where it can contribute to CSOs. Construction of the bioswales will begin in early 2017 and the work will primarily take place in the neighborhoods of Parkchester, Woodlawn, Co-Op City, Bronxdale, Allerton, Eastchester and Williamsbridge.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight 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 a planned $14 billion in investments 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, or follow us on Twitter.