Archive for the tag 'department of environmental protection'

Photo by Yuriy Semenov

New York City officials are claiming they need additional revenue to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure, and they’re looking to collect on yet another water rate hike.

That’s on top of a 5.6 percent hike in water rates this summer, and a seven percent increase the year before. In fact, if I’m reading this chart correctly, water rates have gone up more than 165 percent since Bloomberg took office in 2002, with increases every single year, and double digit jumps from 2008 to 2011.

But, hey, at least they’re considering a “smaller” increase for next year.

“We want the rate increase that goes into effect next July to be smaller than before,” Steve Lawitts, the chief financial officer of the Department of Environmental Protection, told the Daily News.

Public Advocate and mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio has previously depicted the increases as a “backdoor tax,” a device the city is using to not just cover costs, but to pay bills elsewhere in the budget. That has allowed Mayor Michael Bloomberg to claim he hasn’t raised taxes, when in fact city residents are still paying hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more a year – and your City Council rep doesn’t even get a vote on it.

The New York City Water Board usually holds rate increase meetings in the spring. Stay tuned.

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Update (6:16 p.m.): Reader Christina “Know-it-all” K. wrote in to correct me: it’s a red tailed hawk. A juvenile, which is why its tail isn’t red yet. And maybe this guy is a relative of Pale Male, the first red tailed hawk known to have nested on a building (near Central Park) rather than a tree. Actually, these guys are as rare as falcons are in the city, with 32 known nests.

Original story:

The scourge of fire escape burglaries plaguing Sheepshead Bay might be one reason to keep your windows shut tight, but here’s another: Sheepshead Bay’s peregrine falcon could eat your cat.

That may have been what drew this guy to the top floor fire escape of Ilan P., a resident of the Atlantic Towers co-ops on Avenue Z. According to Ilan, the winged friend took up residence Saturday afternoon, making himself available for a 10-minute photo shoot before flying off into the sunset.

“It took an odd interest in my cat. They had an old western stare down,” Ilan wrote to Sheepshead Bites. “I just thought it was awesome since I’ve never seen a hawk in Sheepshead. It’s very cool to see something different in nature in our area.”

Yes, friends, Sheepshead Bay has hawks and falcons. This fellow is probably the same one known to live on the top of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church’s steeple. You can often see him circling about his perch, getting some exercise or looking for a good meal.

And he’s hardly the only one in the area. We know there’s at least one other couple at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. In fact, New York City tracks these guys, and is currently aware of at least 32 around the city. That said, this guy appeared to be without tracking bands, which means there may be more than researchers are aware of.

It wasn’t always this way. The falcons were placed on the endangered species list in the 1970s, as population dwindled with the introduction of chemicals including pesticides. The city and state launched a program to restore their population, and since 1992 the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the city Department of Environmental Protection have worked hand-in-hand in their efforts, which you can read about on the DEP’s website.

Falcons do love New York City, though. According to the DEP, the tall buildings and bridges remind them of their natural habitat, where they perch on cliffs. And the variety of tasty birds to eat – pigeons, sparrows, starlings and others – give them a nice diet, which they capture during dives at speeds ranging from 99 to 273 miles per hour.

Anyway, check out the video and other photos Ilan sent over.

See the photos and video.

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It has been almost eight months since Superstorm Sandy devastated the area and while political leaders, activists and volunteers are doing everything they can to clear the rubble from the streets, boaters are hoping that more action is taken to clear the area’s waterways and creeks. NY1 is reporting that boaters are requesting more government intervention to clean up the trash, sunken boats and broken docks washed into the seas by Sandy.

In Gerritsen Beach, partially sunken boats and old broken docks are still clogging up the waterways and creating hazards for boaters. Recreational boater Buddy Love explained the less than safe conditions in Brooklyn’s waterways.

“Sunken boats that are turned upside down…debris in the water that is washed up…some of the boats are hazards because they are sticking up out of the water,” Love told NY1.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the city Parks Department has claimed that cleaning up the waterways and creeks is not their responsibility, though officials from the DEP did volunteer in clearing a lot of debris blown in the water by Sandy.

Despite the unsafe obstacles, sailors who take off from Sheepshead Bay are reporting that there are still many clear channels available for passage.

A johnny pump brings relief to the 'hood on a hot summer day. Photo by Brandon Barron

A johnny pump brings relief to the ‘hood on a hot summer day. Photo by Brandon Barron

As we all slog through our first oppressive heat wave of the season, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent out a notice reminding all New Yorkers that opening fire hydrants without the spray caps as a means of cooling off is illegal, wasteful, and dangerous.

We previously published a list of cooling centers in our area if the heat and humidity become unbearable and you need to cool off legally.

According to a release circulated by DEP, “Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure and put lives at risk if there is a fire. Children can also be at serious risk, because the powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can knock a child down, causing serious injury.”

From the release:

The unauthorized opening of New York City fire hydrants often spikes during heat waves. Opening a hydrant without a spray cap lowers water pressure and can hinder firefighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The reduction of water pressure resulting from illegally opened hydrants can also cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities. Opening a hydrant illegally can result in fines of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.

Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant generally releases more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap releases 20 to 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by an adult 18 or over, free of charge, at local firehouses.

New Yorkers are urged to report illegally opened fire hydrants to 311 immediately. DEP has additional staff on call today to respond to reports of illegally opened fire hydrants.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants.

For more info, visit nyc.gov/dep, like the DEP on Facebook , or follow them on Twitter.

Just driving along, enjoying the day’s nice weather coming in through the windows, maybe blasting some Tom Petty or something, and you’re careening around the curve of Gravesend Neck Road near Homecrest Avenue and life is good a-

Cri-thrack! Holy crap, what was that?!

Buddy, your day just got all kinds of screwed up. And your car’s axle, too.

Chaim Deutsch, aide to Councilman Michael Nelson, tipped us off to this mother-sucker of a hole in the road, on Gravesend Neck Road and Homecrest Avenue. Deutsch described it as a “road collapse,” and said he’s informed the Department of Environmental Protection – which is responsible for the water and sewage lines underneath – and the Department of Transportation. The NYPD 61st Precinct is also on scene to prevent you from having the kind of day I described above.

On a side note: has anyone else noted an increase in water and sewage line damage across the neighborhood? Just driving around last week, I spotted four – all already being dealt with – including the one in front of my home.

Mark Treyger (Source: Assemblyman Bill Colton’s office)

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.

File photo

Homeowners around the city received a letter from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection recently, informing them of a new insurance program covering the water and sewer lines connecting their homes to the public system. The timing of the letter – just weeks after Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the area’s infrastructure – raised alarm for many, who sent Sheepshead Bites e-mails and Facebook messages wondering if this was a scam.

Well, it’s not. We spoke to Department of Environmental Protection representatives last week, and the program has been in development since long before Sandy.

“In terms of this program, while the timing is a coincidence, it does not have anything to do with Hurricane Sandy,” said Chris Gilbride, communications director for the DEP.

Keep reading to find out more about this program and what it covers.

Source: BrokenSphere via WIkimedia Commons

Styrofoam is perhaps one of the most space-aged products mankind has ever invented. But, though the stuff is soft, lightweight and relatively durable, its also a dangerous environmental hazard. Because of this, the Sanitation Department is looking for a city-wide ban on the product, according to a report by DNA Info.

The legislation being proposed would place the focus of the ban on businesses and not consumers.

“This would not be something that the consumer would have to deal with,” said deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability Ron Gonen, “From a pure dollars-and-cents standpoint, it costs us money to dispose of Styrofoam in a landfill. It’s also unhealthy for the environment. It doesn’t break down properly.”

Instead, the ban would fine or heavily tax businesses that continue to order and distribute Styrofoam in large quantities, forcing them to find more environmentally favorable alternatives.

“We’re either going to ban your product or packaging, or make you pay to have it sent to a landfill,” Gonen said.

Councilman Lew Fidler, who had expressed support for a ban in the past, reaffirmed his support for the new ban proposal.

“I would love to move this bill forward, as it would be a help to both our environment and to our businesses through tax incentives,” Fidler said in a released statement.

A little duck walks around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Source: peterjr1961 / Flickr

The Jamaica Bay Task Force (JBTF) will hold its next meeting January 29, 6:30 p.m. at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 175 Crossbay Boulevard in Broad Channel, Queens. The public is invited to attend and partake in the open discussion period.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland will be on hand to discuss the DEP’s response to Superstorm Sandy and Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Linda Canzanelli will give the National Park Service’s update on damage to the Wildlife Refuge from Sandy.

Project Managers Dan Felt and Lenny Houston will highlight Jamaica Bay projects currently being undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers and Region 2 Director of the NYS DEC, Venetia Lannon, will talk about DEC’s response to Sandy.

A question and answer session will follow each presentation.

To learn more about what the JBTF does and how to get involved, contact Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society at (718) 318-9344/driepe@gmail.com or Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers at (718) 634-5032/dmundy5032@aol.com.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Local mariners have something to be happy about this New Year: the Department of Environmental Protection reversed course on plans to destroy a 78-year-old navigational aid between Manhattan Beach and Breezy Point that mariners say makes them safer and shows them the way home when gizmos can’t.

According to documents released under a Freedom of Information Law request filed by Sheepshead Bites, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection decided to leave a wastewater diffuser pipe that locals affectionately refer to as the “roundhouse” after sailors and other mariners objected to its removal.

“Comments received questioned whether it would be more advantageous to leave the existing outlet chamber in place,” DEP reps wrote to partnering agencies in a September 2012 letter. “If kept, it could serve as an underwater fish habitat and provide opportunity for sea birds to perch.”

It wasn’t just the environmentalists that the DEP sought to please; the agency determined the now defunct roundhouse served a crucial purpose for navigation, and as a marker for underwater infrastructure that could damage vessels.

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