Author Archives: SWIM Coalition

Update on Sewage Discharges into Coney Island Creek

S.W.I.M. recently posted an update on our blog about an illegal discharge of sewage into Coney Island Creek. Several articles have been published on this issue, below are links to the articles and details from our original blog post. DEP has advised community board 13 and local stakeholders that the discharges have been stopped as of the end of September but many questions still remain unanswered. Community Board 13 is planning to host a Town Hall meeting on the matter in early November. Stay tuned for updates and details for the Town Hall Meeting. 

Article Links: Waterfront Alliance Blog, Gothamist, Brooklyn Daily, Brooklyn Daily2

S.W.I.M.’s Original Blog Post: 

“On September 7, 2016, NYCDEP [NYC Department of Environmental Protection] notified the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation that the agency had discovered that 15 buildings in the Beach Haven Apartments, with a total of 990 apartments, were illegally discharging raw sewage from the buildings into the City’s stormwater sewer pipes which discharge directly into Coney Island Creek via outfall CI-641. This discovery was made during NYCDEP’s ongoing investigation of illicit sewage discharges into Coney Island Creek at the request of DEC.

The NYCDEP estimates the total volume of sewage discharged to the Creek from these buildings to be approximately 200,000 gallons per day.  DEC staff inspected the site on September 8 and September 12, 2016, and determined that:  The 15 buildings had failed sanitary lines either caused by blockages or broken lines. To prevent sewage from backing up in the buildings, the house trap caps for the storm lines were removed to allow sewage to flow from the sanitary lines to the storm lines. DEC Staff is continuing to investigate this case to determine the owner of each building. Repairs have started to correct the connections.”

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Notes from S.W.I.M. Coalition’s October 11 Public Meeting:

Marianna Koval, from the NYU Center for Sustainable Business, spoke at S.W.I.M.’s  quarterly public meeting on October 11, about the partnership between NYC Department of Environmental Protection and the Natural Resources Defense Council to restructure the city’s Grant Program for Green Infrastructure on Private Property and encourage more private property owners to get grants to support the implementation of Green Infrastructure projects that manage stormwater runoff on their properties.

Here is a link to the presentation document.

NYCDEP has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for how the program might be reconfigured and potentially managed by a third party team of experts. The RFI is titled Request for Information (RFI) for Management of a Green Infrastructure Private Property Incentive Program and is posted on the City Record here.

An RFP will be issued in approximately 6 months.

A synopsis of what they are looking for in the RFI:

  1. DEP is seeking responses that identify innovative program management structures to incentivize green infrastructure stormwater management retrofits on private property.
  2.  The initial target for the new private property incentive program is to manage one inch of stormwater runoff from approximately 1,000 impervious acres over the next 15-20 years.
  3. By utilizing a program manager for the new incentive program, DEP is hoping to substantially expand its GI incentives aimed at private property owners.
  4. The proposed program management solutions should: drive scalable adoption of GI on private property, effectively market the new incentive program, efficiently engage contractors, and reduce the costs of GI through market scale.
  5. DEP is open to receiving responses from single entities or from entities that represent joint ventures that could provide creative solutions to this challenge.

 

 

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Ongoing threats to water quality

The New York City Water Trail Association, a non-profit group of citizen scientists that test water quality throughout the NY Harbor shoreline, reported alarming results last week. A 0.4 inch rainfall on September 14 seems like it was enough rain to cause a combined sewer overflow event in Flushing Bay and Flushing Creek; four of the six samples from the Bay and Creek taken the following day maxed out the lab’s bacteria count of >24,196 counts of Enterococcus colonies for a 100mL water sample. Enteroccus is an indicator bacteria that indicates the possible presence of sewage in the water. NYC Department of Health sets safe swimming standards for acceptable levels of bacteria in the water. Enterococcus counts higher than 104 colonies are considered unacceptable. The Water Trail Association posts their results on their website every week.

Combined sewer overflow isn’t always the cause of high levels of bacteria in the water. Sometimes, illegal sewer connections discharge sewage directly into waterways, even on sunny days. Two weeks ago, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reported illicit sewage flows into Coney Island Creek:

“On September 7, 2016, NYCDEP [NYC Department of Environmental Protection] notified the department that the agency had discovered that 15 buildings, with a total of 990 apartments, are discharging sewage to the storm sewer that discharges into Coney Island Creek via outfall CI-641. This discovery was made during NYCDEP’s ongoing investigation of illicit sewage discharges into Coney Island Creek at the request of DEC. The NYCDEP estimates the total volume of sewage being discharged to the Creek from these buildings to be approximately 200,000 gallons per day. NYCDEP is continuing to inspect buildings in the area. DEC staff inspected the site on September 8 and September 12, 2016. The 15 buildings had failed sanitary lines either caused by blockages or broken lines. To prevent sewage from backing up in the buildings, the house trap caps for the storm lines were removed to allow sewage to flow from the sanitary lines to the storm lines. DEC Staff is continuing to investigate this case to determine the owner of each building. Repairs have started to correct the connections.”

DEC, under the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, posts recent NY State sewage alerts, but they only go back one week, so this notification is no longer available. An archive of alerts is available, but has not been updated since May 2016. You can sign up for real time alerts on DEC’s webpage.

And finally, last week Riverkeeper boat captain John Lipscomb discovered over 200 plastic bags filled with “black, semi-gelatinous sediment”. Captain Lipscomb believes whoever left the plastic bags in the Creek must had done it recently and intentionally. The sediment material has been taken to DEC for potential testing. The Brooklyn Eagle and NY Daily News have reported on this story.

Your advocacy is important to advance improvements in water quality in New York City!  Get involved with SWIM or our member organizations, and keep us informed if you hear of dumping, sewage, or other threats to your local waterbody.

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