February 3, 2022
The Feasibility Study for the Consolidation of NYC Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities on Rikers Island will determine the capacity for organics and wastewater processing on Rikers Island as mandated by Local Law 31. The study will assess the possibility of consolidating the four Upper East River Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs)—Hunt’s Point, Wards Island, Bowery Bay, and Tallman Island—into one modern WRRF with renewable benefits for the city. The contract for this project will start in April 2022 and end in October 2023.
In October of 2019, the New York City Council passed a vote to shut down the Department of Correction facilities on Rikers Island and open four borough-based jails in its place. After years of efforts made by advocates, Rikers survivors, and Council Members alike, the jail is set to be closed and the island will be transferred from the Department of Correction to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) by 2027.
A series of Renewable Rikers bills were introduced in the City Council on June 13, 2019 and were passed between February and March of 2021. The bills ensure that regenerative and environmentally conscious uses for Rikers Island will be thoroughly assessed and considered. One of the bills, Local Law 31 of 2021, requires DEP to conduct a feasibility study to assess building a consolidated Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) on Rikers.
Currently, DEP operates 14 WRRFs from across all five boroughs treating over 1.3 Billion gallons of water each day. Conditions of the facilities and other rising challenges indicate that WRRF consolidation may be the best way to meet the city’s water quality, energy efficiency, and resiliency goals. The four Upper East River WRRFs (Hunt’s Point, Wards Island, Tallman Island, and Bowery Bay) are almost 100 years old, and the necessary upgrades to maintain the facilities are costly. More importantly, the old facilities are high energy consumers and are located on waterfront property in the Bronx, Queens, and Randall’s Island. Consolidating these facilities into one new facility would allow DEP to incorporate state-of-the-art technology to maximize energy efficiency and beneficial use of the treatment waste products like biogas. Locating the new facility on Rikers Island would allow the four current facilities to close and would open that waterfront property for possible community use.
The city is considering WRRF consolidation as a step to reach city-wide goals for greenhouse gas reduction, carbon neutrality, and energy efficiency while meeting the challenges of a steadily increasing population and challenges of climate change. The Reimagined Rikers Island WRRF poses an opportunity to advance New York’s wastewater treatment capabilities and make strides toward fiscal and environmental sustainability.
DEP is committed to maintaining open lines of communication with advocates and community members of New York during this process. A formal outreach process regarding the study will commence in Spring of 2022.