New York State received $340 million dollars from the federal Environmental Protection Agency last week to upgrade sewage and drinking water plants to protect against future storms like Superstorm Sandy. Local City Council candidate Mark Treyger, running for the 47th District covering Coney Island and Gravesend, is calling on the state to steer those funds to the Coney Island Sewage Treatment Plant on Knapp Street, saying it needs it the most.
Of the $340 million, most of it – $283 million – is earmarked specifically for sewage plants. The funds are part of a the Sandy emergency relief package approved by Congress at the beginning of the year, and are aimed at making upgrades that would keep raw sewage contained instead of discharging into public waterways – as is the case during heavy rainfalls when the plants’ tanks overfill.
Treyger said in a press release that the local plant should be a high-priority for the state because of its vulnerable location and its trouble grappling with Superstorm Sandy. The press release said:
“Coney Island was one of many New York communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. During, and in the immediate aftermath of the storm, people who were unable to evacuate, as well as those who quickly returned to their homes, did not have access to clean drinking water or reliable sanitation services,” said Treyger.
The Coney Island Waste Water Treatment Plant, located on Knapp Street, was hit with a cascade of problems during Hurricane Sandy. Water from Shell Bank Creek came over the bulkheads and flooded the building. Flood debris clogged vital parts of the plant and power was lost and to make matters worse. To compound the problems a 72 inch outfall pipe had been previously shut down for repairs.
“Our part of coastal south Brooklyn – not just New York and America’s playground – is particularly vulnerable to future natural disasters. In the event that another storm, of similar or even greater magnitude to Sandy, hits our area, we must be prepared. I strongly urge New York to use the money given to us by the Environmental Protection Agency to, among other critical projects, expedite desperately needed sewer upgrades in Coney Island.”
But the state says that the $283 million, which will be dispersed to municipalities throughout the state, is but a drop in the bucket to make the repairs needed. EPA officials are directing municipalities to request additional funds via grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and FEMA.
Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the city’s sewage treatment plants, told Sheepshead Bites that the Knapp Street plant was just one of many that took damage. They said 10 of the city’s 14 sewage treatment had some degree of damage and service issues, but they were all at 100 percent functionality as of February 10. They added that the funds from the EPA are being coordinated through the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and that the DEP had not yet received details about the allocation.