Tag Archives: New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Ridgewood families blast DEP for sewage backups

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angela Matua


Homeowners gathered around on Seneca Avenue near Norman Street in Ridgewood on Thursday afternoon to get answers from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding sewage problems they have been experiencing since earlier this year.

Homeowner Angela Georgescu said she started seeing sewage flood her basement as far back as eight years ago after National Grid excavated the road in front of her house.

The problem was sporadic until sometime in early 2015, when she learned that seven other houses on her block were also having trouble doing their laundry and were spending more time in their basements cleaning up.

“All our holidays are in the basement because there are more people home,” Georgescu said. “There is more sewage so we have to stay to clean instead of staying at the Thanksgiving table.”

Mark Chen Oi Ming, one of her neighbors, claimed he saw utility workers damage the sewage line eight years ago. At the time, the employees told him they would come back to make repairs but Ming did not see them again.

The Department of Health has visited the site at least twice because the sewage has overflowed into the sidewalk, neighbors claimed.

Georgescu and other homeowners have tried calling 311 and contacting local Assembly and Council members but have received no response or have been told that action cannot be taken since the sewage line is private. A representative for Assemblyman Mike Miller told the homeowners to individually call plumbers to identify the problem.

Georgescu and other homeowners hired plumbers to check their sewage lines and have all received the same answer – their individual sewage lines are clean and damage free.

DEP officials visited the site on April 2 to provide information about the sewage infrastructure and next steps the homeowners need to take to repair this problem. According to DEP officials, these homes were built more than 100 years ago, which means the sewage pipes were constructed before the city sewer was put into place.

In this case, the DEP claimed, the sewage lines are considered private property and the responsibility of the homeowner. The sewage from these seven homes collects into a private drain that then connects to the city sewer and travels to a sewage treatment plant.

DEP officials explained that because the damage comes from the private common drain, public money could not be used to fix a private drain. But Georgescu and other homeowners said they had no prior knowledge of owning the drain.

“They keep saying that this is a private line, but in our deeds it says nothing about owning the line,” Georgescu said.

DEP officials said homeowners should fix the sewage drain and then seek reimbursement from the utility companies that allegedly damaged the line. The homeowners received contact information for National Housing Services, a nonprofit organization that provides low-interest loans to homeowners throughout New York City.

Another option would be to hire a plumber to build a new service line and individually connect each homeowner to the city sewer, rendering the private drain obsolete.

Georgescu and the other homeowners were not happy with the outcome of the meeting and are going to contact lawyers to see what they can legally do to have the city pay for their repairs.

“There is nothing wrong on our side and the city shoves it in our faces that it’s ours,” Georgescu said. “We have all our chances for the truth and the law to be on our side.”


Boil water order lifted in Breezy Point

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

water map

Once again, it’s safe for Breezy Point residents to drink from the tap.

On Wednesday, the New York City Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Environmental Protection announced that the area’s boil water order has been lifted, except for the areas between Jamaica Walk and Ocean Avenue and to the south of Oceanside Avenue.

Although Sandy didn’t compromise the city’s drinking water, Breezy Point’s privately managed and operated water pipes were damaged. In November residents were told not to drink from the tap, but in January were allowed to use water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and preparing food as long as it was boiled first.

Before lifting the order, Breezy Point’s water was tested to ensure that it meets state drinking water standards, said the city.

If water appears discolored or cloudy at first, run the faucet until it runs clear and cold. This process may take several minutes if faucets and outlets have not been regularly used. Also, residents should replace all ice machine filters and beverage dispenser filters, and flush water through the filter for five minutes.



Ground broken at Willets Point

| brennison@queenscourier.com


After years of planning, protests and public hearings, ground was broken at Willets Point — marking the first physical step in the area’s redevelopment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined at the Thursday, December 1 ground breaking by New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Karen Koslowitz, Borough President Helen Marshall and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

“The development of Willets Point and the benefits that it will provide for the entire city cannot become realities without a multimillion dollar investment in infrastructure improvements that have been needed for many years,” said Marshall.  “Expanding the city’s sewer network and increasing storm water drainage in the area will address longstanding issues and put new development on a firm foundation for the future.”

The infrastructure work is estimated to cost $50 million and will include construction of a sanitary sewer main and reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall. This phase should be completed in 2013.  The construction will mostly occur between October and March, so as not to interfere during the baseball season with Citi Field which sits next door to Willets Point.

Bloomberg called Willets Point “New York City’s next great neighborhood.”

A plan for the redevelopment of Willets Point was announced by Bloomberg in 2007.  Since that time, the city has been able to acquire nearly 90 percent of the land.  Nine private property owners remain in the projects Phase 1 area, according to the city.

The plan for Phase 1 includes up to 680,000 square feet of retail, up to 400 units of housing — 35 percent of which will be affordable — a hotel, two acres of open space and parking.