Tag Archives: DEP

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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Artist behind 5Pointz banner hopes to open dialogue on gentrification


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Andy Kim

A duo of Brooklyn artists hope their recent stop in Long Island City will help open the door to a solution.

Artists gilf! and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) collaborated on Sunday to put a large yellow caution tape, about 3 feet wide and a few hundred feet long, around the Jackson Avenue side of the building which was once home to 5Pointz, with the words “Gentrification in Progress.”

Gilf!, who just goes by her artist name, said it was sad to see the 5Pointz group fight for so long to keep the graffiti mecca alive and in the end just watch it be whitewashed. She believes small businesses are what bring character to New York City, and she has been speaking out against gentrification for a while.

The artist said she had been speaking with BAMN about wanting to create a piece for 5Pointz and following another one of her shows against gentrification, the duo made it to Long Island City.

“I hope people will talk about what gentrification means to them and if it’s something that affects them. And if it is, what are they willing to do about it,” gilf! said. “I use my art to facilitate the dialogue that I think is important or is being swept under the rug.”

She also said she hopes the piece, which was taken down about 36 hours later, will open a door for discussion and bring different people together to come up with an answer.

“If anywhere in the world is going to come up with a solution for this, it’s going to be New York,” she said.

After a long fight to save 5Pointz, years of art was erased overnight last year. The owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, the Wolkoff family, ordered the action to be taken in November. Rallies were held throughout that same month to save the site, including a gathering only three days before the whitewashing, requesting the building, with its art, be landmarked.

Since the whitewashing, the demolition process has slowly begun, with signs of asbestos removal crews at the location.

Although residents have called the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and 3-1-1 with complaints, a DEP spokesperson said that all work being done is in compliance with regulations.

Asbestos abatement is taking place on the side located at 45-50 Davis St. by contractors hired by the buildings’ owners. DEP inspectors issued one stop work order, for less than 24 hours, after an inspection on March 2, for minor corrections, said the spokesperson. The issues were corrected and the order was lifted the following day.

Since then, DEP inspectors have gone and supervised the work being done, as a normal procedure.

“We have been there a few times because we keep receiving complaints about it,” the DEP spokesperson said. “But everything has been in compliance there.”

 

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South-eastern Queens to get more sewers to alleviate flooding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

South-eastern Queens neighborhoods, which have long suffered from perpetual flooding, may see some immediate relief after the city announced it would work quickly to create new storm sewers and upgrade catch basements.

A multi-year, $6 billion sewer-upgrade plan to manage the area’s flooding was announced earlier this year, but the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has initiated smaller, targeted projects to control the issues in the interim, including new storm sewers and catch basin upgrades.

“I am very much looking forward to these essential improvements,” said City Councilmember Donovan Richards. “For far too long, large sections of southeast Queens have had to deal with sub-par sewer systems and I eagerly await the relief these new initiatives will bring.”

Storm sewers and 14 new catch basins were installed on 111th Avenue between 155th and 158th Streets and 113th Avenue between 156th and 157th Streets in South Jamaica. There are currently a number of other flood-prone locations under consideration for similar upgrades, according to the DEP, which will be approved in 2014.

These targeted sites are being chosen based on input from elected officials, community groups and 311 flood reports.

“Ground water and flooding issues within southeast Queens cannot be resolved without total cooperation from all involved and we must stay vigilant to ensure the funding continues,” said City Councilmember Leroy Comrie.

More than $383 million have been used over the last ten years to continue to extend the area’s sewer system and the DEP has allocated an additional $380 million for the next ten years.

 

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Sewage project could impact South Ozone Park traffic


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the DEP

Jamaica Bay is getting a clean-up, but it will require years of work.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed to spread a citywide project to South Ozone Park next August to prevent untreated sewage from ultimately making its way into the bay.

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) result from the combination of this domestic sewage and industrial wastewaters with storm water. The project, once completed, will monitor this, and consists of adding higher level sewer separation, wet weather stabilization, drainage basins and more in the event of a future storm.

Currently, plans are in preliminary stages. There will be period for public comment, and the DEP is working with the DOT on road closure potentials.

According to proposal plans, once construction begins, 126th Street between South Conduit Avenue and 150th Avenue will be closed for one year, as will the 150th Avenue westbound lane.

Additionally, the Belt Parkway’s on-ramp near 150th Avenue will be closed for 22 months, and one eastbound lane will be closed for one year during nighttime DOT work hours.

North Conduit Avenue near 150th Avenue will also experience various lane closures for up to two years. A traffic analysis concluded that the left lane can be closed for two months, and the second lane closed at night for two, one-month periods.

The green space between the Belt Parkway and North Conduit Avenue will be closed for two years.

There are also additional flagging areas for trucks, and temporary, short-term closures for truck unloading.

“You do not make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” said Betty Braton, Community Board 10 Chair. “There are roadway concerns, there will be traffic issues. It’s a lengthy project and they’re trying to do it within a compressed time frame.”

Construction is projected to end by February 2017, and will reduce the volume of CSOs to Jamaica Bay basins by 24 percent.

Despite a busy construction scene, Braton said the benefit in the long-term will be a clean Jamaica Bay after any future storm.

 

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DEP fixing pipe that led to flooding in Howard Beach


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

A flood-prone intersection in Howard Beach will finally see relief. Cross Bay Boulevard and 165th Avenue was long the site of collected storm water, creating a potentially dangerous situation for patrons at nearby Russo’s on the Bay.

“It wasn’t safe,” said Frank Russo, the catering hall’s owner. “In the winter time, that section would ice over. Other times, it was a puddle of water. It actually went over the sidewalk.”

Crews from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were performing regular cleaning of the neighborhood sewer system when they found the pipe that connects the intersection’s catch basin to the sewer line was broken, according to a spokesperson.

They could not determine for how long the pipe had been broken. Repairs are currently underway and will be completed this week.

“There definitely was an issue there,” Russo said, adding that local elected officials helped push the project. “But they’re fixing the problem.”

 

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Community concerned with city’s solution to deal with sewer overflow


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Department of Environmental Protection

Middle Village resident Pat Kannengieser is worried the city’s new solution to reduce sewer overflow will become her problem.

As part of its Green Infrastructure plan, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is getting ready to install hundreds of “right-of-way bioswales,” sidewalk gardens built to absorb storm water.

Kannengieser was told two bioswales will be built on the sidewalk in front of her house on 61st Road. She is afraid she will be left to maintain them and that she will not be able to park there.

“These are nice things, but they are not practical everywhere in the state of New York,” Kannengieser said. “The parking in our area is so pathetic.”

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

Currently, 72 percent of storm water goes unabsorbed in the concrete jungle that is New York. It goes straight into the sewer system via catch basins in the streets and travels to 14 treatment plants around the city.

The plants can handle about 2.5 billion gallons of water a day, but during heavier storms such as Sandy, the water can pass that limit. The result is untreated discharge in people’s homes and in bodies of water around the city.

The Green Infrastructure plan was passed in 2010, with $2.4 billion dedicated to natural solutions to beautify and clean waterways. Those solutions include the bioswales.

“Bioswales are an important part of our growing network of green infrastructure that will absorb storm water naturally and improve the health and cleanliness of our local waterways,” a DEP spokesperson said.

There are about 100 bioswales around the city already and agency expects to set up 500 by the end of the year and thousands more over the next few years, the official said.

The DEP formed a partnership with the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation to erect the gardens.

To respond to Kannengieser and other residents’ concerns, the DEP will fund special crews in the parks department which will maintain each site regularly by cutting trees and picking up garbage.

The agency said the bioswales will not reduce parking spots, since they are on the sidewalk, and a chunk of every curb will remain so drivers that park in front of a bioswale can get out of their cars.

 

“They have to do it correctly, where it’s going to have the least negative impact,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board (CB) 5. “It’s important that they do a good job to maintain the bioswales and not put another burden on the property owner.”

The first sets of bioswales were implanted in Brooklyn near the Gowanus Canal early last year, but residents there are thrilled with the gardens.

“When it comes to the DEP bioswales, our biggest problem is that we don’t have enough of them,” said Brooklyn CB 6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “No complaints, only envious squeals.”

Giordano said DEP representatives will make a presentation on the bioswales at CB 5’s next public meeting on September 18.

FAQ-Green Infrastructure Plan

DEP ROWB Renderings_Final 1

 

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Sewer project set to bring flood relief


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DEP

Springfield Gardens may soon get relief from years of flooding problems.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland announced the start of work to dredge Springfield Lake and double its depth. It will then become part of a new network of Bluebelt wetlands designed to receive stormwater through a new sewer system.

Stormwater will collect in the sewer system from neighborhood streets, sidewalks and roofs; once it is distributed into the lake, it will be filtered before heading into Jamaica Bay.

“[This ensures] we are better prepared for an uncertain future,” said Seth Pinksky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The project, managed by the EDC, is part of a $69 million project that will bring three miles of new water mains, storm sewers, roadways and sidewalks to Springfield Gardens. It is the fourth phase in a $175 million neighborhood upgrade, consisting of additional storm sewer lines, water mains, fire hydrants and more.

Strickland said once completed, the project will “improve living conditions for local residents and promote economic growth while helping to protect the health of Jamaica Bay.”

Installation of the water mains is already 95 percent complete and the work on the Bluebelt wetlands is ongoing. Installation of the sewers began in June.

The project broke ground last fall and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014.

 

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Pols push for sewer upgrades as Queens homes take on water


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jim Gallagher

An outdated sewer system is leaving large swathes of Queens vulnerable to serious flooding, according to a pair of elected officials.

“Year after year, Queens residents have been fighting the trauma and financial burden of flood damage to their homes and lives,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “We cannot continue to let our working families weather the storm alone.”

For decades, poor infrastructure in Fresh Meadows has caused basements and garages to flood with sewage during heavy rainstorms, local leaders said.

“If we have a torrential downpour, all the water gets backed up,” said Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

He added that sewer pipes in the neighborhood can only handle about an inch and a half of water per hour. Any more rainfall causes water to pour into homes.

The problem also extends to Glendale, where rainy weather shut down the flood-prone Cooper Avenue underpass last weekend.

The closure between 74th Street and 69th Road was due to “construction and the anticipation of flooding,” according to city alerts. It lasted from Friday afternoon to Saturday night.

Last August, three residents were caught in a deluge there. Cars were submerged under several feet of water and emergency responders had to rescue the trio.

A spokesperson for Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to add new catch basins to the underpass, but the department has not committed to major infrastructure improvements.

Thousands in southeast Queens say they have also been suffering from mold spores and flooding since the city took over the water supply in 1996.

According to DEP spokesperson Christopher Gilbride, the city has “invested hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the sewer system in Queens” over the last decade and will continue to make improvements.

But Rozic and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week said they wanted the department to speed up the sewers upgrades and reexamine reimbursement policies for homeowners until then.

“Put simply, severe weather is the new normal,” they wrote in a joint letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

The pair urged the department to make flood-prone neighborhoods a priority in capital plans and expedite short-term flood mitigation measures like street landscaping to reduce storm runoff.

“After the wake-up call Sandy delivered, there’s just no excuse for inaction,” de Blasio said. “We can’t keep leaving families high and dry.”

Yolanda Gallagher of Fresh Meadows shows how high flood levels reached in Utopia Parkway homes after a storm last August.

 

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City approves 5.6 percent water rate increase


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

DrippingFaucet

The New York City Water Board voted on Friday to approve a 5.6 percent water rate increase effective July 1.

Proposed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 5, the rate increase comes as no surprise to Queens residents. However, despite many homeowners expressing displeasure, very few thought that it is unreasonable.

“Well, it makes sense that they would raise the rates now that summer’s about to begin,” said Whitestone resident Sheila Johnson. “That’s when people will be drinking more water to stay hydrated.”

Another Whitestone resident described the rate hike as “opportunistic.”

“I’m not entirely sure that it’s necessary,” he said. “But there’s no point in complaining about something I can’t change. Plus, I don’t really mind paying a little more for things that I know I can’t live without, like water.”

What is notable about this particular rate increase is that it is the lowest one since 2006, which was a 3.12 percent hike. Water rate increases have been on a steady decline since 2009, and this latest rate increase is a continuation of that trend.

“[The increase] doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Charlie M. of Howard Beach. “It’s really not that big of an increase, though. I remember when it used to be way worse.”

 

 -BY JOHANN HAMILTON

 

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