Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DEP Pilot Projects Screen Litter From Bronx River; Gowanus Canal Up Next

For all the legitimate gripes the community has with NYC DEP (and the history provides legion) we are making steady progress towards a cleaner harbor.  When you consider the breadth of the DEP's portfolio (not only our aged, inadequate combined sewer system but the incredible network that brings in our water supply from upstate) it's amazing what they actually accomplish day in and day out.

For the record, whoever wins the mayoral race this year should hold on to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.  He's one of the good ones. 

Now, from DEP's release:

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland today announced that the $26 million installation of four pollution control devices along the Bronx River will help prevent trash and debris from entering the River. Much of the trash and debris found in New York Harbor, and its connected waterways, originated as litter discarded on city streets that was subsequently washed into the sewer system. To help keep the litter from reaching the Bronx River, DEP has installed below-ground control devices at four sewer outfall locations in the south Bronx. The control devices use hydraulic bar screens and nylon netting systems to capture the litter. This is the first time this type of technology is being used in New York City and later this year DEP will complete construction on a similar facility at the head of the Gowanus Canal.

"Under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership we have invested $10 billion towards improving New York City harbor water quality and the overall health of our waterways continues to improve to levels not seen in more than a century," said Commissioner Strickland. "These pollution control devices will help keep litter out of the Bronx and Upper East Rivers and ensure that New York City remains a place where people want to live, work, and raise a family."

"The installation of these pollution control devices along our borough's jewel, the Bronx River, is a great investment for our future generations. This program is about more than just keeping trash and debris out of a river, this is about building a community around our natural resources. Our neighbors and our families should be able to enjoy this treasure of the Bronx, and this project will help improve the quality of water in the Bronx River. I thank the Department of Environmental Protection for working to bring this worthwhile project to fruition," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
"As an elected official who has been involved in improving the quality of the Bronx River for over thirty years, I welcome the litter control devices along the Bronx River including those in my Council district," said Council Member Koppell.

"Removing the pollutants and improving the water quality of the Bronx River has positive rewards which can be seen in the environment and the community. As the ecosystem slowly repairs itself, Bronxites benefit from seeing the restoration of the fish and wildlife right here in their backyard," states Councilman Joel Rivera.

"The installation of the pollution control system at the Bronx River is a significant step towards improving our waterways and natural resources here in the Bronx," said Council Member Annabel Palma, D-Bx. "This project demonstrates an important investment in our local environment and its impact on the surrounding communities will undoubtedly be positive for generations to come. I am excited that this project will result in the visible improvement of the Bronx River and hope it will encourage residents to enjoy the river and its surrounding area to take advantage of all it has to offer."
Linda Cox, Executive Director of the Bronx River Alliance attests, "As more and more New Yorkers explore the Bronx River for recreation and enjoyment, we are sure that they will appreciate this contribution to reducing pollution, along with other measures that DEP is taking to improve water quality."

The litter control devices were installed at the following locations in the Bronx:
  • West Farms Road
  • Bronx Park Avenue
  • Bronx Zoo
  • Sound View Park
As part of the Pilot DEP is using both the nylon netting, which has a lower installation cost but requires manual cleaning after each storm, and the hydraulic bar screens, which are more costly to install but are self-cleaning and direct the trapped debris to a wastewater treatment plant where it is removed. The control devices have been installed in phases over the last 18 months and thus far more than 10 tons of trash and debris has been removed from the nylon netting system. The performance of both methods will be monitored closely and will inform decisions about future deployment of the pollution control devices.

In addition, the city's 144,000 catch basins are designed to trap litter before it can make its way into the sewer lines. DEP also has a fleet of four skimmer boats that patrol the harbor to capture floating debris, including wood, plastic, metal, rubber, and glass.

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