Tag Archives: DEP

Maspeth could be getting a community athletic field near Newtown Creek


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The area around Newtown Creek, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” could be the site of a brand-new community athletic field in Maspeth.

During a City Council hearing, Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), testified before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, asking for public siting approval on the construction of an aeration facility for Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

The proposed aeration facility is part of a state-mandated effort to improve water quality in Newtown Creek and would be located on 47th Street, near the water’s edge. The facility would help raise oxygen levels in the water and promote wildlife sustainability.

The initial phase of construction leaves approximately one and a half acres of open space on the property, which Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 5 have expressed interest in converting into an athletic field.

“While it is very important to build this aeration facility for Newtown Creek, it is also important our community take advantage of green space for athletics. I am grateful the DEP has agreed to work with the community to allow for public use of the land,” Crowley said. “In Maspeth, there is a high volume of trucks traveling through the streets. It also has fewer city parks. This lack of green space plus its proximity to the LIE both lead to a higher rate of obesity and asthma compared to neighboring communities.”

“Maspeth residents are disadvantaged in that they lack access to sufficient open green space,” she added. “We can promote sports and physical activity by taking advantage of all public space options, ideally by way of increased access to athletic fields.”

Landau testified to the City Council that the DEP will begin discussions with the community, as well as local athletic groups, about entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an athletic field on the unused portion of land.

The MOU would state that the sports organizations are responsible for the capital cost of the field as well as the maintenance. Also, if the DEP should ever need the field in the future, upon reasonable notice, the sports organization would need to discontinue operations on the property until any and all construction on the site is complete. Once construction is complete, the site would be handed back over to the community again.

“Understanding that the space may be needed in the future to meet state and federal water quality requirements, DEP is committed to working with the Council and community organizations that are willing to build and maintain the space for athletic purposes, as we have with a soccer league in Manhattan near our North River Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Landau said. “As an immediate next step, we look forward to taking Council member Crowley, local leaders, and other community members on a tour of similar public amenities DEP has constructed, as well as beginning discussions with local athletic groups, identified by [Crowley].”

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Jackson Heights residents call National Grid a ‘bad neighbor’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Residents on one Jackson Heights street are calling on National Grid to be a good neighbor and take care of “dangerous” holes left unattended for weeks after digging was started last month to work on gas pipe updates.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and residents on 80th Street gathered on the block Tuesday morning to speak out against holes created by the utility company that were left ignored for weeks.

The holes, which measure about 13 feet by 3 feet and go as deep as three to six feet, were dug by National Grid in April to start renovations on underground gas lines. However, residents said that in the beginning of May work just stopped and the holes were left uncovered and surrounded by barriers and cones, most of which fell into the holes.

“The damage they have done to this street makes you understand that National Grid is a bad neighbor. You don’t come into communities, dig up streets, leave piles of dirt and then leave the exposed pipes open to all types of foul play, to children falling into them, and then not respond to the community,” Dromm said. “We are here today to demand that National Grid minimally put plates over this, fix this work, and ensure the safety of the community is taken care of here.”

Dromm added that his office communicated with National Grid several times, but no fixes have been made. The councilman said he even left his personal number and never received a call back.

Some residents expressed concerns that they have seen children playing in the holes, and others said the exposed gas lines have been letting out gaseous odors.

A Courier reporter on the scene also smelled gas odors coming out of one of the holes.

“The unfinished repair work initiated by National Grid on April 17, 2015, has not only resulted in a trip and fall hazard to pedestrians but has made us nervous because we were told originally the construction was to remedy a gas leak,” said Ricky Castro, co-op board vice president. “Despite many complaints we have received no answers about why we smell gas and if it’s safe.”

Castro added that last weekend when it rained, water filled the holes and caused the basement of one of the apartment buildings, which has storage units belonging to residents, to flood.

According to residents, National Grid workers showed up Tuesday morning but no work was being done. They also added that they have called the FDNY, Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection and were told National Grid is responsible for the holes.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company is committed  to ensuring the safety of the public.

She added the company is using industry-approved methods to secure the work site and have the appropriate work permits. Also, National Grid is conducting daily surveys of the area to maintain safety until the repairs are completed.

“We apologize for the inconvenience but the work is necessary to ensure a safe and reliable gas system for the community,” the spokeswoman said. “Last month during an investigation we detected a gas leak and made arrangements to schedule the repairs, working around parking restrictions on the block.”

She added the gas lines had been replaced on the street and now each home in three buildings has to be transferred to the new service lines. The company is working to notify everyone in the buildings.

Crews are expected to be on site starting Wednesday through the end of the week to complete the work and have the holes filled.

Residents are urged to call 911 or National Grid’s Gas emergency number, 718-643-4050.

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Bioswale construction to begin later this month in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

The confines of Community Board 5 are about to get greener.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced during the Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting on Wednesday that the construction of 200 to 250 bioswales is set to begin at the end of the month.

Bioswales are curbside gardens that collect stormwater runoff into large, underground basins through 5 feet of specially engineered soil, comprised of layers of broken stone and sandy soil.

“New York’s infrastructure is hard, it’s very dense,” said Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, director of community affairs for the DEP. “Green infrastructure is, in a sense, peeling back a layer of that hard infrastructure.”

“Part of what we’re doing is making the land spongy again,” he continued. “The goal is to improve water quality…this is one of our tools to do that.”

The bioswales help improve the city’s water quality by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system, which helps lower combined sewer overflow (CSO).

CSO is a combination of sewage water from homes and businesses and stormwater, which can become too much for the sewer system to handle, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The water then overflows and sends untreated water into the city’s waterways, such as Newtown Creek, which suffers from high levels of pollution.

One single bioswale can manage almost 3,000 gallons of water and if the bioswale becomes overfilled, the water is released into the sewer catch basin as it normally would, just at a lower rate so there is not a rush of water that could overflow the sewer system.

With the installation of the bioswales right around the corner, community issues are a major point of concern for the DEP.

“One of the big questions we get a lot is, ‘Who is going to take care of these?’” Abdul-Matin told the board. “We build it, we’re going to maintain it. It’s not like we’re going to pass the buck onto you.”

The construction and installation of these bioswales and other green infrastructure will help clean the city’s water and reduce flooding, making the neighborhoods they serve better.

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NYC water rates set to go up again this July


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

BathroomFaucetH1001_M_150_B_R

In what’s become an annual rite of spring in New York City, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommended a water rate increase Friday.

Calling it the lowest suggested increase in a decade, the DEP formally requested that the New York City Water Board raise rates by 3.24 percent, even lower than the 4.9 percent increase projected last year.

For owners of single-family homes, their yearly water bills will climb about $33 per year, from $1,025 to $1,058, based on the average consumption of 80,000 gallons per year. Multi-family homeowners will pay, on average, about $23 more per unit annually, from $666 to $689 based on an average annual water consumption of 52,000 gallons.

The DEP will also ask the Water Board to continue freezing the minimum charge for homeowners who use approximately 100 gallons or less per day; these customers are charged $1.27 per day, or $463.55 per year.

“By implementing effective costs controls, refinancing higher interest debt and reducing the rental payment, we are able to deliver the lowest water rate increase in a decade, and the 25 percent of single family homeowners who use the least water will not receive any increase at all,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “In addition, we have put together a package of initiatives to provide relief to nearly 50,000 additional low-income, senior and disabled customers.”

The package Lloyd mentioned includes the proposed expansion of the Home Water Assistance Program, which provides annual credits to low-income families who qualify for the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP); credits for those who enroll in the DEP’s monthly e-billing program; and $100 credits for those who participate in the lead and cooper monitoring program.

Though the DEP touted the reduced increase, one elected official — Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee — said the city needed to ease homeowners’ burdens even further.

“The financial burden of offsetting the costs of maintaining the city’s vast sewer and water system cannot be placed on single-family homeowners, many of whom are seniors,” Richards said. “Considering the hardships that many lower-income families are facing, it is important to retain reduction measures — including a minimum $1.27 daily flat rate and expanding the Home Water Payment Assistant Program to absorb these increased costs.”

Queens residents will get their chance to speak for or against the water rate increase on Thursday, April 30, at the Water Board’s public hearing in Long Island City. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. at LaGuardia Community College, 45-50 Van Dam St., Conference Room E-242. Click here for more details.

The Water Board is expected to formally adopt water rates for the city’s 2016 fiscal year on May 8; the new rates will take effect on July 1.

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Maspeth to get bioswales


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

New and improved green infrastructure is coming to Maspeth.

Over 40 different locations throughout the area will be the new home to bioswales, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). These curbside gardens are built to capture stormwater runoff before it can enter the sewer system and contribute to combined sewer overflows.

According to the DEP, the installations are “critical to the city’s strategy to improve water quality in the waterways and green our streets.”

The work is expected to start on or about March 30 and finish by June of 2016. The full project will cost the city nearly $3.5 million.

Bioswales consist of a city tree, flowers and plants on top of five feet of soil specially engineered to absorb water naturally. By pulling in rainwater, they help keep the sewers from overflowing.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The DEP has invested more than $10 billion to improve water quality in the New York City harbor, which is now the cleanest it has been in more than a century of testing. They have committed to certain milestone projects over the next 20 years, the first of which in 2015 is to install right-of-way bioswales and stormwater greenstreets in specific priority Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) tributary areas, one of which is Newtown Creek.

One way to keep the water quality pristine is to reduce CSO that will ultimately discharge a mixture of untreated sewage and stormwater runoff into the harbors when it rains too heavily for the system to handle.

The building of these bioswales aims to help eliminate some of those problems. There is a large holding tank under each curbside garden, which will help to retain water during heavy rainstorms. The water will then be used by the plants above and help to keep CSO from running into the harbor.

This project will ultimately benefit Newtown Creek, which presently does not meet the water quality standards of the city.

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Water main break fixed in Hamilton Beach after long wait


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Updated Feb. 24, 2:20 p.m.

A continuous stream of water that had been flowing onto one Hamilton Beach street for over six days due to a water main break — causing flooding along the thoroughfare that turned into sheets of ice when temperatures dipped below freezing — has finally been fixed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

On Feb. 24, a day after The Courier wrote about the water main break, which is located directly in the middle of First Street in Hamilton Beach, the DEP sent crews to the site to fix the problem.

Before the fix, water was gushing from cracks in the asphalt down toward 104th Street and into a catch basin. And as temperatures were plunging well below freezing on Monday night, Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said the water was creating very dangerous and slippery conditions for residents and motorists.

“I was out there at 12:15 last night and the road was very slippery,” said Gendron on Tuesday. “I’m glad they came in and finally fixed it.”

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The break was first noticed on Feb. 17 by Joe Thompson of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol during his nightly tour. He observed the water coming out of the ground and turning into ice due to the cold weather that night. He immediately filed a 311 report but the only response before Feb. 24 from the city was a sanitation truck dispatched on Feb. 18 to salt the road in order to break up some of the ice.

 

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Another water main break happened on the same block about a month ago which was also fixed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

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DEP open again to Newtown Creek access in Maspeth


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of DEP

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is looking to clear the air with Community Board 5 (CB 5) over its plans for a Newtown Creek aeration facility in industrial Maspeth.

During its February meeting, CB 5 panned the DEP’s revised proposal for the plant at 58-26 47th St., which includes machines designed to inject oxygen into the creek and reduce water pollution. The plans excluded previously promised public waterfront access space.

But in a letter sent to CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri following the meeting, DEP Associate Commissioner of Public Affairs Eric D. Landau stated that the agency is open to creek-side access at the facility on the condition that nearby sites first develop their own waterfronts for public use.

“[The] DEP will further enhance the site with waterfront access, if and when nearby properties have developed publicly-accessible waterfront spaces — what the community board has described to us as a larger waterfront promenade,” Landau said in the letter that the Times Newsweekly obtained on Thursday.

The plans include a walkway leading from 47th Street to the water’s edge, then a path immediately adjacent to the creek.

At the February CB 5 meeting, Tom Smith of the Department of City Planning said the DEP was excused from a city waterfront access mandate at the location due to concerns over public safety.

Landau also stated the DEP would “install benches and trees along the sidewalk” outside the facility “to create a seating area for the community.”

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Lindenwood street still sinking after fixed by DEP


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Despite recent attempts by the Department of Environmental Protection to fix a sinking section of a Lindenwood street, the pavement at the corner of 79th Street and 157th Avenue has again sunk by as much as a foot.

The corner is totally unusable to cars, and residents worry about pedestrians walking there and vehicles possibly getting stuck in the dip.

“The hole has gotten worse than ever since they came in to fix it,” said Joe Thompson, a Lindenwood resident and president of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol. “We visited the hole this week and saw a large puddle completely frozen over. What if someone slips into that because the water can’t drain correctly, or what if a car makes too fast of a turn around the corner not realizing the hole [is there]? It’s dangerous.”

The DEP came in October to work on the street after The Courier first reported on the situation. They did extensive work on the infrastructure of the pipes below ground. This included fixing the connection of the catch basin and sewer at the location. They also inspected the adjacent ground water and sewer infrastructure and found everything to be working normally.

Once the repair was completed, the road was resurfaced from 80th Street down to the sinking area. But, almost three months after the work was completed, some of the resurfacing has begun to sink in, creating potholes on the block, and the corner still remains a problem.

The street has been in a bad condition for years but began to worsen after an April 30 flooding disaster, residents said. The Spring Creek sewer overflow facility, maintained by the DEP, malfunctioned during a major rainstorm that night causing the sewers in Lindenwood to back up, flooding the streets.

lindenwoodstreet2

A DEP representative said the department has fixed the problem that was causing the street to sink and that they will continue to work with the Department of Transportation to determine what future steps may be necessary to ensure that stormwater can drain off the street properly.

Thompson said the street needs to be elevated to avoid the potential of a tragedy.

“It needs to be fixed again,” he said. “I understand that it is the winter months and it is hard to repave during this time, but at least put cones around the section and make it a caution area until work can be done.”

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EXCLUSIVE: $40M Belt Parkway project to benefit Jamaica Bay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the DEP

Hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage that now overflow into ecologically fragile Jamaica Bay every year will be diverted to treatment plants under a new project being launched by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

A new $40 million initiative split into two smaller projects is set to begin in 2015 in South Ozone Park by the Belt Parkway to reduce sewer overflows into both Bergen and Thurston Basin, two bodies of water that ultimately lead into Jamaica Bay.

City officials said they are taking pains to minimize the impact on traffic along the Belt Parkway from construction of one of the new sewage overflow pipelines that will cross under the highway.

The project is designed to ensure that about 300 million gallons a year of combined sewer overflow will be routed to the Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it will be treated to Federal Clean Water Act standards, rather than being discharged untreated into the tributaries of Jamaica Bay.

As of now, there are two 36-inch sewer lines carrying sewer overflow from North Conduit Avenue under the Belt Parkway to 150th Street and 126th Avenue. When they reach that point, they connect to a 72-inch sewer line, ultimately bringing all that overflow to the Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The DEP said that due to increased development of southern Queens, the existing pipes “no longer have sufficient capacity to carry combined flow generated north of the Belt Parkway and act as a bottleneck in the area’s drainage system.”

To relieve this issue, one of the small projects, which is slated to start in early 2015 and to be completed in 2017, will be building a new 48-inch interceptor sewer under the Belt Parkway, near the Lefferts Boulevard exit. The sewer is estimated to cost around $29 million and will provide significant additional capacity within the area’s drainage system, which will ultimately reduce overflows into Bergen Basin by approximately 135 million gallons a year.

Photo courtesy of DEP

Photo courtesy of DEP

The other project, set to start in late spring and finish in the summer of 2016, is estimated to cost around $11 million. In that phase, the DEP will install three hydraulic levees at key junctions in the area’s sewer network. During dry days, the levees will remain closed as the system will not need to push out any excess water into the basins. When there is a heavy rainstorm, the levees will be forced down by the pressure of the flow and allow for the water to be drained into the basins.

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This will optimize the carrying capacity of the sewer pipes during rainstorms and reduce sewer overflow into Bergen Basin by about 65 million gallons a year and into Thurston Basin by about 102 million gallons a year.

In order to minimize disruption to traffic on the Belt Parkway during construction, the DEP will be using a microtunnelling machine to install the new sewer line, allowing contractors to do most of their work underground, passing under the highway. The machine will launch from the north side of the Belt Parkway and be retrieved on the southern end.

The DEP has started to deliver the materials to the staging area for the project, which is along the southern side of the Belt Parkway by Lefferts Boulevard.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

There will be some closures of  lanes in both directions, mostly at night and during weekends. The DEP said that they will be working with the Department of Transportation to notify communities and motorists of any closures.

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Fresh Meadows residents and local pol tell city flooding must stop


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jim Gallagher

Fresh Meadows residents have reached their saturation point.

For over a decade, a section of Utopia Parkway has been getting flooded every time it rains more than a few inches, and homes along the street end up with basements, bathrooms and garages overflowing with untreated sewage, according to residents and City Councilman Rory Lancman.

“This is something that’s been going on for many years,”  Lancman said, before going on to describe the issue as both “maddening” and “intolerable.”

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study of the area and came up with several possible solutions, from raising the curb to installing green infrastructure like bioswales, which are plantings and landscape designs to filter and redirect polluted water.

The long-standing problem, according to residents and city documents, is geography. The area sits in a valley that naturally collects water, overwhelming the catch basins faster than in other areas.

“So it’s not as if the city can’t do anything to alleviate the problem,” Lancman said. “We can’t get the DEP to ultimately tell us what it’s willing to do.”

The councilman is meeting with the DEP next week to see if he can push the department to move ahead with a solution.

In the meantime, residents like Annette Shapiro who live in the problem area between 65th and 67th Avenue worry at the mere prospect of a heavy rainfall.

“Every time it rains, everybody freaks out,” she said. “It’s no way to live. I’m sick of it.”

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The city has a crush on your old toilet — literally


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

toilet

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Waste not, want not.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is looking for contractors to crush 200,000 toilets so the city can put the porcelain bits to other uses.

The DEP announced in May of this year that it is launching a $23 million program to replace 200,000 inefficient toilets in up to 10,000 buildings across the five boroughs. An inefficient toilet can use up to five gallons of water per flush, compared to a high-efficiency toilet, which uses only 1.28 gallons or less per flush.

But what to do with all the old fixtures?

The city intends to use the crushed porcelain in the reconstruction of sidewalks and bioswales, landscaped areas built to absorb storm water.

The porcelain from the toilets will create a flat, compact layer on which the city can lay the concrete for the sidewalk, according to Christopher Gilbride, a DEP spokesman. It will also replace the crushed stone in bioswales.

The project is still in its planning stages and the DEP has not yet identified which sidewalks and bioswales will be reconstructed with the crushed porcelain.

The effort, according to Gilbride, is part of a larger departmental initiative to reduce demand for water in the city by 5 percent before the city shuts down the Delaware Aqueduct for repairs in 2021.

The step will help ensure that the city has enough drinking water supply while the Delaware Aqueduct, which supplies about half of the city’s drinking water, remains shut for eight to 10 months.

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Claims pour in to city after sewage backup


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Nearly 200 Queens residents filed claims against the city in the last week after storms left their homes swamped in rainwater and sewage, officials said.

One hundred of those claims came from homeowners in Howard Beach and Lindenwood flooded, who filed notice of claim forms supplied by city Comptroller Scott Stringer against the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Stringer’s office.

“We are going to do everything we can to get your money back,” Stringer said during a Howard Beach civic association meeting on May 27.

His staff handed out the forms at that meeting so people could submit them submit directly to his office, rather than file one through a lawyer. A notice of claim is usually a precursor to a lawsuit unless the claimant and the city come to an agreement over payment.

There are another 78 claims from other Queens residents who were affected by the storm, Stringer’s office said.

For the locals who didn’t see much water damage during Superstorm Sandy, the flooding from the April 30 rainstorm was surprising, according to residents.

But, according to the DEP, the flooding was not caused by nature. It was the result of a backflow from a local wastewater and sewage facility that is run by the agency. During rainstorms, the Spring Creek Facility is supposed to release the excess water into Jamaica Bay. But, according to the DEP, recently installed sensors failed to do this.

“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.” according to a press release from the DEP.

As the forms continue to come in, Stringer’s office is sending engineers out to verify the damages people claimed.

“At first, I thought this flooding was God’s doing,” said Tommy Durante, a Lindenwood resident. “But then we found out that our government caused this. So how am I supposed to trust the comptroller’s office to get me my money?”

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Fresh Meadows residents, pols worry about sinking street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Residents and politicians are complaining about a cracked and sinking street in Fresh Meadows and are calling for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to repair it.

The middle of 179th Street between Union Turnpike and 75th Avenue has sunk a few inches after underground support for the roadway collapsed, which residents have been complaining about since last May.

Local politicians and civic leaders said the issue is getting worse and it creates a problem for pedestrians and drivers. Councilman Rory Lancman and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic will hold a press conference Monday to rally the DEP to fix it.

“DEP needs to figure out what’s going on in a timely matter, and homeowners shouldn’t be penalized,” Rozic said. “The DEP needs to take responsibility.”

Cars driving on the street avoid the noticeable dip in the road and vehicles are parked at a slanted angle, the Courier observed during a recent trip to the site.

The city agency has examined the collapse and found that its sewer line underneath the road is not the problem, but it may be a leak from a resident’s private sewer line that caused the issue, Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide said at a recent meeting. The DEP is currently trying to find the source of the problem.

“DEP has not identified any issues with the city’s water or sewer infrastructure and we have also investigated a number of private water and sewer service lines,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “There are also a number of private lines we have not been able to gain access to. Once we identify the source of the cave-in we will ensure repairs are made and the street is repaired.”

The DEP has made quick fixes to the sinking street in the past, but residents are upset that they have had to deal with the problem for so long. During the press conference elected officials are expected to urge the DEP to find a long-term solution.

“We want things to happen sooner [rather] than later, and it took a long time for it to [get] to this point,” Adam-Ovide said.

 

 

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NYC DEP proposes lowest water rate increase in 9 years


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing a 3.35 percent water rate increase, the lowest hike in nine years.

The “reduction was achieved through internal cost-cutting measures and by redirecting part of the excess rental payment that had been adding to ratepayers’ bills,” according the DEP.

Photo courtesy of DEP

The DEP also said Wednesday that for the first time it is recommending freezing the minimum charge for customers that use fewer than 100 gallons per day. The charge would be $1.27 per day.

“By cutting costs, refinancing higher interest debt, and reducing the rental payment, we are able to deliver the lowest rate increase in nearly a decade, and the 25 percent of single family homeowners who use the least water will not receive any increase at all,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.

For the average customer, the new water rate would mean that a typical single-family homeowner will see an increase from $992 a year to $1,025 a year for water and sewer bills (based on an average consumption of 80,000 gallons of water per year), according to the DEP.

Following the proposal and public hearing, the New York City Water Board is responsible for establishing the rate.

The board has scheduled a public hearing in Queens for Tuesday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m at the Bayswater Jewish Center, 23-55 Healy Ave., Far Rockaway.

 

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Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

JEFF STONE

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the end of a month-long project in Newtown Creek that, if successful, will eventually make the water running through Ridgewood, Maspeth and Greenpoint much more inviting.

DEP crews have been traveling through the contaminated creek since the end of March, cleaning up silt, industrial waste and untreated sewage overflow that has been left largely undisturbed since the 1970s. The project, which is expected to be fully complete by no later than the end of April, aims to make Newtown Creek passable for a new fleet of DEP sludge vessels that will transport wastewater from elsewhere in the city to a new facility deeper inland.

Sludge vessels can be seen six days a week traveling through the East and Hudson Rivers, transporting sludge (semi-solid material leftover from industrial wastewater or sewage treatment) to decontamination facilities. Those facilities then extract any harmful materials and dump the clean water back into rivers around the metro area.

Yet, despite its status as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the city, Newtown Creek is not currently equipped with its own dewatering plant. Sludge from the area is transported through a pipeline under the East River to a wastewater treatment plant in Greenpoint. City officials hope to soon use that valuable Brooklyn real estate for affordable housing and a new park, but the first step in removing the treatment facility is cleaning Newtown Creek.

Step one, for the most part, is finished. Environmental officials said that barges will be taking their final trips through the area using sonar technology to ensure that a new fleet of sludge vessels will be able to travel through without incident.

“Most likely there will be a few spots where they have to touch up and lay a fresh layer of sand down,” a DEP representative said Friday. “The barge and dredge machinery will be on Newtown Creek for at least another week or so, but the majority of the work will be completed by this weekend.”

Before the project began last month, DEP officials and nearby residents were concerned that the stirred-up silt bed would omit a smell of rotten eggs into the spring air. The very notion was enough to prompt a flurry of social media activity from Queens and Brooklyn residents alike. None of the dire predictions came to pass, though, thanks to the crews’ round-the-clock reliance on air and water quality monitors.

“The fact that there’ve been two complaints and all of our monitoring indicates that we’re well within our acceptable limits, everything has gone smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Work at Newtown Creek is a symptom of a citywide effort to equip designated priority areas like Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay, Flushing Bay and the Bronx River with green infrastructure. The city will spend $2.4 billion over the next 20 years on treating wastewater and rain overflow before it enters New York’s waterways.

 

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