The present character of Newtown Creek and its drainage area is considerably different than the character of its pre-urbanized condition. Originally a stream draining the uplands of western Long Island, the waterbody was dredged, straightened and bulkheaded as the surrounding area was drained, urbanized and industrialized early during the development of New York City. By 1930, the waterbody had been transformed to very near its present configuration, and Newtown Creek was serving as a major industrial waterway through which materials were brought to and from area industries, including major oil refineries and terminals, smelting operations, manufactured gas plants, and other heavy industries. The surrounding area had been fully urbanized and industrialized, with sewage and industrial wastes discharging directly to the Creek without treatment, and the natural marshlands and freshwater streams replaced with combined sewers and storm drains. The urbanization of the surrounding drainage area resulted in an estimated five-fold increase in imperviousness and a two-fold increase in the annual runoff volume to the waterbody. Stripped of the surrounding buffers of marshland and its natural freshwater flow, the waterbody was deprived of any natural response mechanisms that might have helped absorb the increased hydraulic and pollutant loads. The Creek’s limited circulation and exchange with the East River allowed pollutants to build up within the Creek, and water quality deteriorated to such an extent that Newtown Creek was notorious as a polluted waterway.
Efforts to address water quality in Newtown Creek date back to the 1960s, when New York City was constructing wastewater resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to treat sewage and industrial wastes during dry weather and to capture a portion of the combined sewage generated during wet weather. Two WRRFs service the Newtown Creek drainage area: the Bowery Bay WRRF, which began operating in 1938, and the Newtown Creek WRRF, which began operating in 1967.
Long Term Control Plan
DEP developed a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) to better understand CSO impacts on water quality within Newtown Creek. Throughout the LTCP’s development the City collected water quality data, performed extensive modeling, held multiple public meeting and analyzed potential projects based on costs and anticipated water quality. To learn more about the Newtown Creek LTCP and other improvement projects, download the factsheet.
The Newtown Creek LTCP was submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in June 2017.
November 15, 2016 – Newtown Creek Visitor Center, Brooklyn
February 21, 2017 – Newtown Creek Visitor Center, Brooklyn
April 26, 2017 – Newtown Creek WWTP, Brooklyn
Waterbody/Watershed Facility Plan
The Newtown Creek Waterbody/Watershed Facility Plan was submitted to DEC in June 2011.