Archive for the tag 'sewage treatment'

Photo by PayPaul

When it comes to sewage spilling into our waterways, people might not really want to know – but they should. The New York Daily News is reporting that while sewage plant operators are required to report spills to health authorities right away, many wait for long spells and often give incomplete reports.

When a sewage spill happens, by law, a sewage plant is required to notify the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) within two hours and the public at large within four hours. Despite this, the Daily News has learned that many spills haven’t been properly reported in a timely fashion:

The agency recently started posting untreated sewage spills on its website to warn the public. The latest report, posted Friday, lists spills — including a 1,000-gallon spill that flowed into Flushing Bay near College Point, Queens — from as far back as May 8.

But most of the entries failed to report the volume of the spills.

A new law passed May 1 requires municipal sewage plant operators to report spills to health officials within two hours and the public within four. But many plant reports are filed late and incomplete, showing “unknown” spill volumes, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

For instance, a spill into Paerdegat Basin in Flatlands, Brooklyn, on June 28, and another into the Harlem River in the Bronx on July 15, failed to report the volume of the spills.

The DEC estimates $36 billion is needed over the next 20 years to repair and upgrade sewer systems at 643 municipal treatment plants in the state.

For those interested, the only two spills reported in Kings County were both at the Red Hook facility in early June – and none at the local Coney Island Wastewater Treatment Plant on Knapp Street. The DEC (and the Daily News, for that matter) does not make it easy to find the reports on their website, but after some prodding they turned up here, as a downloadable spreadsheet.

Recently, New York State received $340 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade and fix the state’s sewage plants, like our own Knapp Street poop factory. The sum given by the EPA is a drop in the bucket compared to the $36 billion needed.

The failure of sewage plant operators to report on spills in a timely and full fashion also adds to the overall growing paranoia over the cleanliness of the beaches and waterways in the local area. Earlier in the month, we reported on a Natural Resources Defense Council study that measured cleanliness of the ocean water at Brighton Beach and Coney Island. The study pointed to the sewage overflow problem which amounts to 30 billion gallons annually in the city.

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.

“Bullet Points” is our new format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Boardmembers push to beautify Manhattan Beach, oppose aesthetic improvements at Knapp Street sewage plant: Parks Department’s Brooklyn Chief of Staff Martin Maher came before the Board last night to provide the community with updates on ongoing projects in the district – including at Bill Brown Park, Galapo Playground, Brigham Street Park and Emmons Avenue – but the presentation quickly turned to Manhattan Beach as members barraged Maher with questions and complaints (video above).

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Photo by Michael Comeau

The Army Corps of Engineers is gearing up to take on an 18-month long project to repair and improve sewage outfall pipes at the mouth of Sheepshead Bay, but first they’re looking for your input.

The Department of Environmental Protection is coordinating with the Corps on the project, and will give a presentation at Community Board 15 tomorrow night. The public hearing will take place at Kingsborough Community College’s faculty dining room at 7:00 p.m. (2001 Oriental Boulevard). (UPDATED)

The maintenance project involves work on two existing outfall pipes leading past the mouth of Sheepshead Bay from Plumb Beach, and into Rockaway inlet. One of the pipes currently suffers from a leak at a joint, and both are being worked on to upgrade the infrastructure.

There will be some dredging as workers excavate about 5,300 cubic yards of fill, and as work winds up gravel will be dumped as bedding. When the work is done, the footprint of the pipeline won’t be much different from what currently exists.

The Corps has also determined that the project will not have a major impact on aquatic life, as the “fish populations would avoid the small area of disturbance.”

You can weigh in on the project at tomorrow’s hearing, or by mailing the US Army Corps of Engineers – New York District at:

Jacob K Javits Federal Building
New York, N.Y. 10278-0090
ATTN: Regulatory Branch

CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated the meeting time was 7:30 p.m. That is incorrect – the meeting is at 7:00 p.m. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

The Knapp Street sanitation garage, courtesy of

A Department of Sanitation garage on Knapp Street is getting a $3.1 million renovation, indicating a once-temporary space has a few more years in the neighborhood.

The story broke on, who writes:

You may be asking why do I have “temporary” in quotes. Well if you didn’t know: the community was promised that this was ONLY going to be a “temporary” location until another garage was built on Neptune Avenue.

… Despite the mayor issuing a 5% cut city wide the other day, the city just gave the Knapp Street location 3.1 million dollars for trailer renovations and berm style landscaping around the facility.

…“3.1 Million Dollar dollars means they are planning a long term stay.” Said Theresa Scavo CB 15 Chairperson. “Even if the keyspan facility was available tomorrow it would still take five years of processing to get someone going.”

The garage, located on Knapp Street across from the sewage treatment plant, was established with the understanding that a facility would soon be created at the derelict National Grid site at Coney Island Creek. The new $158-million garage would merge operations for Community Board 15 and Community Board 13, which covers Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Vehicles for Community Board 13 are presently kept on a residential block on Neptune Avenue, and following the creation of the new garage, both current lots would be vacated

But money to do the repairs at National Grid has dried up, and so minor improvements are being made to the current facilities to sustain them for a longer term.

“We anticipate that as the economy improves, funds can be restored for this important project,” Sanitation spokesman Matthew LiPani told Courier-Life.*

*Sheepshead Bites cannot confirm that LiPani was properly quoted by Courier-Life, or that a reporter spoke to him.
Given the number of inaccuracies in Courier-Life’s report, which was poached from,
we figure it can go either way.

I woke up this morning because of a bad smell. At first, I thought it was the McDonald’s I had for dinner making a revenge, and I was berating myself for giving in and taking my quarterly pilgrimage to the gut-busting fast foodie. But then I checked my e-mail and found the following note from Randy C., and realized I could start blaming something not related to my colon:

there is a smell, with people reporting it from marine park [ brown and ave R] to me at East 21st and ave U, to east 13th and z. it doesnt smell like sewage, but just a bad smell… have you heard anything about this?

Well, does anyone know anything?

(Photos courtesy of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection)

An accident on January 9, 2008 at the Owl’s Head Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bay Ridge resulted in the death of city worker Gennaro Montello and the injury of Joseph DiGiovanni, a co-worker who tried to save him.

According to the NY Times, the worker was crushed by a collapsed conveyor belt that was used to carry silt, such as sand and coffee grit, that had been drained from wastewater.

While such accidents are rare, they do happen. In another incident that happened just last week, the Dallas Morning News reported that in Galveston, Texas a sewage treatment plant worker also died while in the performance of his duties.

Read more about the impact of this tragedy after the jump.
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