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News Alert: State Approves Flawed Plans for NYC Sewer Overflows

SWIM has just learned that on March 7th, the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation quietly approved five CSO Long Term Control Plans (LTCP) submitted by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for:

  • Hutchinson River (Sept. 2014 + April 2015 Supplement),
  • Bronx River (June 2015 + Sept. 2015 Supplement),
  • Flushing Creek (Dec. 2014 + May 2015 Supplement),
  • Flushing Bay (Dec. 2016), and
  • Alley Creek/Little Neck Bay (June 2014 + May 2015 Supplement).

For all of the waterbodies, the proposed plans approved by NYS DEC will leave behind hundreds of millions of gallons of completely untreated sewage overflow per year.  And none of the plans will meet federal health standards for recreational waters.  The plans and their supplemental documents can be found on DEP’s website here.

Earlier this week, SWIM joined with several of our member organizations — Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, Save the Sound, Guardians of Flushing Bay, and Douglas Manor Environmental Association — to issue a press statement objecting to the approvals, and an article on this topic was published this week on the Politico blog.  We are all developing a series of actions that we’ll share via our e-blasts in the weeks ahead.  Scroll down for more details. 

We also urge you to share this news — and your concerns about these plans — with others who would be interested in your community, including your elected officials. Here is a SWIM Coalition fact sheet that you can use to convey what’s happened. 

It was not expected that DEC’s would make a final decision on these plans now, without any invitation for public comment or a public meeting to hear community concerns.  Until now, the public process that has been followed for the CSO LTCPs, and the “Waterbody/Watershed Facility Plans” that preceded them a number of years ago, is:

  • NYC DEP holds a final public meeting for each LTCP (“meeting # 3”) with local stakeholders to present the plans they’ve submitted to the State (DEC)
  • For the Waterbody/Watershed Plans, before NYS DEC decided whether to approve a plan, the state would hold a public meeting to take comments directly.

DEC did not hold a public meeting before approving the five plans. For the Bronx River and Flushing Bay, DEP hadn’t yet held meeting #3 to present the final proposed plans to the public.  DEP posted on their website the following statement, which suggests that DEP may even have been surprised by the state’s approval of these plans:

“In March 2017, NYC DEP was notified that NYS DEC had approved five of the eight LTCP plans that DEP has submitted—Hutchinson River, Bronx River, Flushing Creek, Flushing Bay, and Alley Creek/Little Neck Bay. However, in some cases, NYS DEC added a number of items to the LTCPs that were not part of the submittals and have not undergone public review. In certain cases, these additions will significantly lengthen the amount of time required to complete the projects, something that was not taken into account in the approved LTCPs. NYC DEP is committed to protecting public health and the environment and will continue to review the approved plans and consult further with NYS DEC to ensure we have both robust and achievable LTCPs. We look forward to updating the public on the LTCPs, and completing the public hearing process for the Flushing Bay plan.” 

SWIM has submitted comment letters on all of the now approved plans to DEC and DEP and in every case, we’ve voiced many concerns about the plans, such as disinfection of CSO’s, rather than any CSO volume reduction, for three of the waterbodies (Flushing Creek, Alley Creek, and Hutchinson River). You can see our comment letters here and many of them are also posted on the DEP website.

Stay tuned for updates here, and be sure to sign up for our bi-monthly e-blast. If you have questions or ideas about any of this you can email us at swimmablenyc@gmail.com

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United Nations World Water Day 2017: Wastewater

We are excited to note that on SWIM’s 10th Anniversary, the focus of World Water Day 2017 is Wastewater.  A report titled Wastewater – the Untapped Resource will be issued by the United Nations Water Assessment Program on March 22, 2017. “The report’s title reflects the critical role that wastewater is poised to play in the context of a circular economy, whereby economic development is balanced with the protection of natural resources and environmental sustainability, and where a cleaner and more sustainable economy has a positive effect on the water quality.”

Click here to see a fact sheet and other educational materials on Wastewater

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