Tag Archives: Jamaica Bay

Two dead after boat capsizes in Jamaica Bay

| amatua@queenscourier.com

A fishing boat capsized on the waters of Jamaica Bay Friday night, killing two people and injuring three during a night of heavy wind and rain.

At about 7:46 p.m., two men who had been on the boat swam to shore and alerted an on-duty guard at the NYPD’s aviation base at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn that their boat had capsized and that three other friends were in the water.

Police and FDNY harbor boats found two men near the shore and had to rescue a third. Authorities transported them to local hospitals.

The two men who died, ages 42 and 50, were rushed to Mount Sinai Beth Israel after suffering from cardiac arrest. They were pronounced dead on Friday night, police said. According to authorities, both men are Brooklyn residents.

The two men who alerted authorities and a friend — ages 48, 33, and 37 — were taken to Coney Island Hospital with minor injuries, according to police. Their identities have not been released, pending family notification.

Though Hurricane Joaquin is not expected to hit Queens, the area has experienced heavy wind and rain as remnants of the storm pass through. A coastal flood advisory was in effect for New York City and a high surf advisory remains in place for southern Queens and the south shore of Long Island until Sunday.


Jamaica Bay cruise shows beauty, highlights environmental fragility

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Ryan Haas


Dozens enjoyed a special cruise along Jamaica Bay on Saturday to take in its natural beauty while also learning more about the environmental risks it faces.

The Golden Sunshine launched from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn and journeyed into the waterway bordering Brooklyn and Queens, with nearly 100 naturists, birdwatchers and locals aboard. Part of the Gateway National Recreational Area, Jamaica Bay is home to more than 300 species of bird and 100 kinds of fish.

Although some boarded just for a 3-hour getaway from yellow taxis and honking horns, the focal point behind the cruise was to spread awareness of the pollution dilemma within the bay’s waters.

Renowned naturalists Don Riepe and Mickey Cohen narrated the guide, providing those on board with a wealth of knowledge on what the bay has to offer its wildlife and fellow New Yorkers.

“Jamaica Bay is a great urban resource,” Riepe said. “It’s an amazing wildlife resource and a great recreational area, but it’s in a transitional period right now. Our main goal is to try to clean up the bay and restore the marshes as best as we can, which we’re doing now in the western part of the bay. We’ve got hundreds of volunteers, and we’re working with volunteer agencies to figure out what marsh should be next on the agenda.”

Riepe went on to explain how the bay is “unswimmable,” claiming there to be an enormous amount of pollutants, such as pesticides and heavy metals in the water. He stressed that eating fish caught out of the bay was even riskier.

“You would definitely have to peel the skin, since that’s where the heavy metals build up in the fish,” he said.

In addition to the marsh cleanups, shorelines are looking to get overhauls in the near future as well. One hundred beaches throughout New York State are slated for cleanups this season, 12 of which surround Jamaica Bay.

Among those who spent their Saturday afternoon aboard the cruise ship were Stephanie Goldstone and Mona Haas, who came out to support the movement to clean the waters of Jamaica Bay and restore its marshes.

“It’s a lovely way to spend a fall afternoon,” Goldstone said regarding the cruise. “Taking care of this national park and oasis is essential. My husband and I have been coming here for more than 30 years to birdwatch, and I think anything that can be done, should be done.”

Haas, who visited Jamaica Bay for the first time on Saturday, echoed Goldstein’s comments.

“I’m not necessarily a big birdwatcher, but I’m very conscious about our economy,” she said, “and I think if you take care of our environment, even if it’s just cleaning up our waters, it will go a long way.”


First-ever documentary about Jamaica Bay to premiere in the fall

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jamaica Bay Lives

Sunnyside resident Dan Hendrick fell in love with Jamaica Bay 15 years ago, and he’s about to express that love in a new documentary set to debut later this year.

Growing up in Michigan, Hendrick spent a lot of time on his father’s boat, which cultivated his respect for and fascination with nature. After visiting Jamaica Bay, Hendrick went to a local library to learn more about it, but quickly realized that there were no books on the 18,000-acre wetland estuary. He decided to write the first one himself.

“I went around and I searched and searched and searched and low and behold no one had ever written a book about Jamaica Bay,” Hendrick said. “It’s just like this great place and the fact that in a city of millions of ambitious people living here, you think at this point, every angle has been covered and in some ways that just underscores how much Jamaica Bay was not celebrated.”

The book, “Jamaica Bay,” was released in 2006, and in April 2011, Hendrick set out to make a movie, titled “Jamaica Bay Lives.” Though his book is a great resource for facts about the bay, the environmentalist who works for a solar energy company wanted to tell a story about the relationship between the bay and the local community.

“The documentary has a different power than the book does,” Hendrick said. “We really wanted to reach a wider audience.”

Many of the main characters in the film are local civic leaders and residents who have dedicated their lives to preserving the bay. Don Riepe, a Broad Channel resident and head of Jamaica Bay Guardian, an environmental group that focuses on education, community engagement, advocacy and restoration, talks about the diverse wildlife that calls Jamaica Bay home.

“People will be amazed by the beauty of the marshes and diversity of wildlife right here at their back door,” Riepe said.

A crew of five captured around 400 hours of footage that was eventually condensed into a 75-minute documentary. Hendrick also called on the community to provide photographs and footage of the bay.

Much of the footage, Hendrick said, depicted damage from Hurricane Sandy including flooding and fires in the area. Though the hurricane delayed production, the superstorm made it clear how important places like Jamaica Bay are, he said.

“Urban nature is more important now than ever to protect because nature is a refuge for the city,” Hendrick said. “As we saw in Hurricane Sandy, nature plays a role in protecting our communities from storms, from more severe weather. It’s more important than ever.”

Once the film is finished, Hendrick hopes to take it beyond the big screen and television. Schools and community centers are a “critical” part of the film’s distribution plan because of the ability to educate locals about an important national park that is “right in their backyard,” Hendrick said.

The crew is in the process of putting the finishing touches on the film, including the addition of music, sound mixing and color adjustments. After watching the film, Hendrick hopes residents are encouraged to visit the bay and foster a relationship with it.

“All of our cities are urbanizing and you’ve got climate change upon us with big storms like this,” Hendrick said. “We need to reset our relationship [with nature] that we’ve abused over the years.”


New water trails may come to Jamaica Bay

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Paddlers may soon have a new scenic Jamaica Bay path to follow when exploring the body of water in south Queens and Brooklyn.

The Regional Plan Association (RPA) is proposing a new public access waterfront trail for the bay which they think will “encourage well-being through active outdoor recreation and by connecting people with history, nature and community.” If built, it would connect a network of different access points and destinations throughout south Queens and Brooklyn.

“There are a lot of things going on in Jamaica Bay right now,” said Robert Freudenberg, director of energy and environmental programs for the RPA. “This paddling program is a tremendous opportunity to start the next phase of using the bay.”

Over 292,000 people live within a mile of Jamaica Bay, and the Gateway receives an average of 3.8 million visitors annually for its variety of recreational uses. The RPA says that there has been a growing interest in paddling on the bay, though only 6,700 people used it for the sport in 2014.

The “Paddling the Bay” trail, as it is called, and would encompass Jamaica Bay as far east as Idlewild Park, near JFK airport, to as far west as Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn. It would consist of five smaller trails: Dead Horse Trail, Airfield Trail, North Channel Trail, Rockaway Bayside Trail and the Wildlife Trail. These trails would connect paddlers to things such as restaurants, parks and bike trails among other recreational activities.

The organization has outlined about five different access point in Queens that already exist but are looking to add some to complete the trail route they proposed. Existing ones consist of Rockaway Point Yacht Club, Riis Landing, Bayswater, Idlewild and Rockaway Jet Ski, part of Thai Rock.

Some of the potential areas they are looking at to build access points, if the project were to go through, are at Beach 88th Street, Rockaway Community Park, Belle Harbor and Spring Creek at the southern tip of Howard Beach.

Each of these access points, both existing and potential, would take some type of investment to build out by either upgrading the facility or building totally new infrastructure.

There has been no monitory figure dedicated to what it would take to create the trails at this point. The RPA has given each access point a range of one to four dollar signs to give an estimate of how much money it would cost to upgrade or build out the area. With one symbol the RPA says building the infrastructure would cost thousands of dollars or could be work that may be done through volunteer programs. But where there are three or four dollar signs, costs could go up to the millions.

The RPA said that some of the recent investments that were brought to the Jamaica Bay waterfront, including its water quality and park areas, have given visitors a renewed interest in exploring the land—which is why they believe investing in a water trail is vital to its continued growth.

Though they have designed what they believe it should look like, the trail is not in the construction phase. They are still asking the National Parks Service (NPS) and the NYC Parks Department, two of the owners of most of the land around the gateway, for continued consideration of new dock sites, finding stakeholders and funding opportunities.

The project would have to be taken over and completed by the NPS. There are still multiple ideas for the trails being played with, but the RPA says they want to start getting information to the public regarding the trails to see what they think of the idea.

“The big thing here is that we would like to see what the community and potential users of the trail want to see,” said Freudenberg. “This was a vision we want to get to a reality and we [will] have continued conversations with the community and landowners [regarding the project].”


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.


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.


Car pulled out of canal in Howard Beach

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/1@NYPDSpecialops

Updated 3:30 p.m.

A car plunged into a Jamaica Bay canal early Saturday morning, sources told The Courier.

According to the FDNY, the incident happened at about 2 a.m. and after pulling the car out of the water, divers did not find a body.

It is believed that the driver either abandoned the car right before it hit the water or swam out of the car right after, authorities said.

There were police and a truck with a crane on scene to pull the car out of the bay.

The vehicle was then placed in the parking lot of Howard Beach Chiropractic, located on 160th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard, sources said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The cause of the accident and the whereabouts and condition of the driver are still not known.


Birds flock to winter hot spot Queens

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Queens County Bird Club

Queens isn’t just the world’s borough. It’s also the birds’ borough.

Birds migrating south for the winter stop in Queens, using the borough’s numerous parks as a rest stop. Other birds, like the snow owl, dig in for the winter and stay in New York City for the season. Witnessing it all are the bird watchers of the Queens County Bird Club.

Bird watching – or birding, to use the hobby’s parlance – is a common practice in Queens, according to Arie Gilbert, president of the Queens County Bird Club. As the season nears winter, leaves falling from trees give parks a desolate, dead look, but they reveal many types of birds that won’t be found in warmer months. Gilbert’s club makes many trips to Alley Pond Park, Kissena Park, Forest Park and, of course, Gilbert said, Jamaica Bay.

“For anybody who even has a passing knowledge of birding knows about Queens and Jamaica Bay,” Gilbert said. “People from all over the world come to New York City to go to Jamaica Bay.”

In these hot spots, people will be able to see birds like the Iceland gull, the great-horned owl and the wood duck.

Along with bird watching trips, the club plans on holding a lecture on Nov. 19 that will help bird watchers identify and note the subtle difference in subspecies like those found in sparrows.

“Birding is not like football. It doesn’t have the same appeal,” Gilbert said. “But it’s a lot of fun being outdoors.”


Queens Museum displays items collected from Jamaica Bay clean-up

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Rohan Narine

Many who practice Hinduism in Queens go to Jamaica Bay to make offerings to their gods, floating fruit and flowers and even statues of the deities into the bay.

But the items offered are sometimes left behind, not only littering the water but also causing distress among those worshipers who practice eco-friendly offering techniques.

“We don’t want our practices to make Jamaica Bay look like the Ganges in 20 years,” said Rohan Narine, a board member at Sadhana, an eco-friendly Hindu group. “We want the community to see that we are also environmentally conscious.”

Sadhana hosts a monthly clean-up effort around Jamaica Bay in which volunteers gather the offerings that have been left behind by other worshipers. To show the public that clean-up efforts are made, some of the items collected are now on display at the Queens Museum, located in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, as part of a new exhibition named “Sacred Waters,” which started on Sept. 4.

The group pitched the idea of this exhibition to the museum in hopes of both giving non-Hindus a better understanding of the religion and making it known that devotees are not people who have no respect for the environment.

“We had about 100 people come out [to our opening ceremony on Sept. 14]. The reception was very promising,” Narine said. “We are a nature-worshiping religion and want people to understand that.”

Diorama at Queens Museum (1)

Educating Hindus of the safest environmental practices that should be taken when worshiping is also a main focus of Sadhana.

“There is a delicate balance between tradition and the environment, and both must be equally respected,” said Aminta Kilawan, a board member at Sadhana.

Along with the exhibition, which displays a “diorama” of the offerings collected, Narine is working with the National Parks Service (NPS) on a pamphlet to be displayed around the bay, the purpose of which is two-fold: to teach people the basics of the Hindu religion and to list NPS rules for clean-up.

“We want to get back to the balance that [our Hindu ancestors] once had,” Narine said.

Narine hopes for the pamphlet to be around the bay by November, and the exhibit will be displayed at the museum until Sept. 24.



Jamaica Bay movie is nearing completion

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via  Jamaica Bay Lives Flickr

Jamaica Bay is on the verge of getting its own little taste of stardom as a new documentary about the body of water and its surrounding habitats is officially in post-production.

The documentary film titled “Jamaica Bay” was started about three years ago. It will cover the bay’s history, environmental issues and local residents’ way of life, according to Dan Hendrick, producer of the film.

“The overarching theme of the film is that right now, Jamaica Bay is a good national park but it has the potential to be great one,” Hendrick said. “We hope that this film will inspire people.”

Hendrick and his team started his work on the film in August 2011. He said he wants to highlight how the bay has made such a remarkable comeback from where it was 30 years ago. They have over 100 hours of film of the bay including shots from before, during and after it was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

“People care about the bay more than ever,” Hendrick said. “The pollution has subsided from where it was 30 years ago but there is still a lot of work to do.”
The team hopes to get the documentary out to both local TV channels and movie theaters by spring of 2015.

Due to limits on public television, the television cut will be less than an hour long, but the producers hope for the full film to run up to 90 minutes.

To learn more about the film check out jamaicabaylives.com.


Governor Cuomo signs legislation to preserve Jamaica Bay

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dan Mundy, Jr.

Jamaica Bay, long known as a dumping site for toxic waste, now has a law to prevent some of the hazardous material from making its way into the body of water.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that prohibits state regulatory agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from issuing permits to allow dumping hazardous materials in Jamaica Bay. This law will ultimately limit the risk of water contamination in the bay.

“Communities surrounding Jamaica Bay can now breathe a little easier with the passing of this bill, both figuratively and literally,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo, who, along with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, drafted the legislation. “In the district, we were all fortunate enough to grow up with Jamaica Bay and I hope this legislation will ensure future generations can enjoy the serenity and beauty for years to come.”

Prior to this bill, there were no guidelines that the DEC had to follow when issuing permits for dumping into the bay’s burrow pits, which are areas with increased depth as a result of dredging projects by the Army Corps of Engineers that removed sand from parts of the floor to fill in others.

Both Addabbo and Goldfeder believe this will be a huge victory for Jamaica Bay and its surrounding neighborhoods.

“Dredged materials leaching with toxins have no right to be dumped in our waters and now we finally have the laws in place to keep our families away from harm and preserve the natural ecosystem of Jamaica Bay for years to come,” concluded Addabbo and Goldfeder. “We commend Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation into law.”



Jamaica Bay ospreys take off

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Shalini Gopie


Jamaica Bay has some new flight patterns.

Coley and Coley Two (C2), the ospreys that call Jamaica Bay home, just added some new chicks to their nests about a month ago.

While Coley, whose nest can be seen from Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, had three chicks for two years in a row now, C2, whose nest is on the Yellowbar Marsh, has had some trouble. Last year she did not make her nest, which can weigh over 500 pounds, soft enough for the hatchlings, causing the eggs to crack before they were ready to hatch. This year she had two baby chicks that are doing well, according to Shalini Gopie, a representative from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

 Adult ospreys just back from the hunt. (Photo: National Parks Service/ Jamaica Bay Gateway)

While C2’s chicks are still too young to fly, Coley’s offspring just started to take flight about a week ago.

“They’ve gotten their freedom,” Gopie said.

Both Coley and C2 are part of a tracking project, where the wildlife refuge collects data on where the birds fly during their migrations, according to a 2012 New York Times article. During their southern migration, Coley has been tracked as far as Colombia and C2 has been tracked to Venezuela, according to Gopie.

The refuge has been low on funding for these tracking projects which can help keep the osprey population growing in the bay.  To find out more about the project or to follow the osprey, visit jamaicabayosprey.org.



Rotting fruit washes up in Charles Park

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata


The shoreline of Jamaica Bay, bordering Charles Park, is home to shellfish, seagulls, seaweed, submerged shopping carts, abandoned baby strollers and now, rotting fruit.

A cluster of putrefying fruit was found in the water on Thursday on the northwest portion of Charles Park, where clean-up has been a long-standing issue.

“We need to protect and clean up the shore line,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “We appreciate the advocacy for the clean-up of Charles Park and do not want to see this great volunteerism go to the wayside.”

The fruit mound washed over from the Broad Channel part of the bay where Hindu worshipers sacrifice items in the water to the goddess Ganges of their religion.

It is unclear how such a large amount of fruit was able to pile up in one specific area about a half mile away from where it was sacrificed leaving the devotees puzzled.

“We honestly had no idea the items we sacrificed washed up there,” said Amar Hardeosingh, who takes part in the Hindu religious ceremony at the bay. “We try to do good for the environment and we want to keep it as beautiful as it is.”

The religious group has been taken to task before for not cleaning up after they finished their rituals, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times, but lately have been keeping up with the guidelines of the National Parks Service (NPS), which owns the land.

To practice their rituals, the religious group must get a permit from the NPS, which is a long process, according to Hardeosingh. But they have continually received the permit because of their avid clean-up once the ceremonies are over, he said.

“We sacrifice the fruit hoping that the fish will eat it but if it is piling up elsewhere it is not going toward the right cause,” said Hardeosingh, who operates a Hindu radio station and promised to announce this problem over the air waves to gather a clean-up group. “If they are rotting away in this area, it’s [the same as using] non-perishable items, which means we should clean it up.”

Unlike non-perishable items, which litter the waters of Jamaica Bay and its surrounding shorelines, this fruit usually never makes its way to the shoreline. Throwing the fruit in Jamaica Bay is technically illegal but is less detrimental to the ecosystem than the usual non-perishable garbage items and wastewater from four sewage nearby plants that end up in the bay, said Veronica Scorcia, a marine biologist.

“The whole pieces of fruit take time to break down, which makes their particulate matter insignificant compared to the sewage runoff,” Scorcia said.

The NPS is responsible for the upkeep of the park and its shoreline and Addabbo said he is getting in touch with the NPS to make sure they are notified about the fruit pile-up.

He added that NPS has made an effort to clean up the park and that residents must keep being the service’s eyes and ears to notify the NPS about any problems going on in the park.

The Charles Park Conservation Society, which has played a major role in the clean-up effort of the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NPS did not immediately return a call for comment.



Ferry runs aground in Jamaica Bay

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 5:20 p.m.

A Seastreak ferry ran aground near the eastern end of Jamaica Bay Wednesday afternoon.

The 65-foot long boat was on a private excursion with 29 people aboard, including 25 local Rockaway residents and business owners, and a few crew members, when it became stranded around 12:30 p.m., according to officials and the ferry company.

There were no injuries and the passengers were unloaded from the vessel and taken to a wharf just west of the Cross Bay Bridge, near where the incident happened, the FDNY said.

The ferry was moving at about 2 knots (1 mile) per hour when it ran aground in the eastern area of the bay after the captain noticed shallow water and slowed down the boat, Seastreak said.

The vessel did not appear to suffer any damage, and remains stuck in the water until it can float freely during the next incoming tide.

“I am told the boat encountered an uncharted shoal.  We are sorry this happened and that our guests were inconvenienced.  Thankfully, no one was injured,” Seastreak Spokesman Tom Wynne said.

Seastreak said the accident’s cause is still being investigated.




Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by 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.