Dry spell: DEP pilot project to help relieve flooding

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THE COURIER/PHOTOS
THE COURIER/PHOTOS

Just when Jamaica resident Lurline Williams thought the possibility of ending area flooding had dried up, a new pilot project brought a deluge of optimism. According to Assemblymember William Scarborough, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to install two reverse seepage basins along Linden Boulevard, one at 155th Street and one at 165th Street. There will also be a basin placed at the well located at Station 24 in St. Albans.

Each pump is expected to remove two million gallons of ground water per day, according to Scarborough, who said the cost of the project is as yet unclear.
“I’m so happy,” said Williams. “I hope this helps solve [the flooding problems.] We’ve been dealing with this for so long.”

Williams, who has lived on 165th Street for the past 44 years, has experienced devastating water damage to her Jamaica home. Unaware of flooding issues when she first purchased the house, Williams poured countless dollars into fixing rotting wood and eradicating mold. In 2008, Williams gutted her entire basement after a particularly terrible flood.

President of the Jamaica Block Association, Mannie Brown, lives across the street from Williams and is thrilled over the progress.
“I feel good that they’re finally doing something,” said Brown. “It’s been an ongoing fight. This is a relief for the whole block.”

“Progress has been made and we are cautiously optimistic,” said Scarborough. “We’ve had disappointment before. Reaching this point is a testament to the fact that all officials in southeast Queens came together.”

Rising water levels in southeast Queens have been a problem since 1996, when the area’s local water supplier, Jamaica Water Supply, was overtaken by the DEP, the agency that provides water for all of New York City.

According to Scarborough, instead of taking water from one of the 69 previously-present underground wells in the area, the DEP brought in water from other sources, causing the ground water level to rise. The standing water is now almost at surface level.

Roughly 10 years ago, the DEP realized there was widespread flooding. It then directed its attention to cleaning up the well at Station 24 in St. Albans, tainted, said

Scarborough, by chemical runoff from a dry cleaner across the street, as well as implementing new technology to pump and purify the water at Station 6 in Jamaica, which was expected to deliver between six and 10 million gallons of water per day.

In 2005, the project was abandoned because of the cost, according to Scarborough.

In a hearing with the City Council Environmental Protection Committee on September 24, 2007, Former DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd testified that the water had risen over 30 feet between 1996 and 2007, Scarborough told The Courier.

The DEP could not be reached for comment as of press time.