New York City seeks safeguards for wastewater treatment plants

Feb. 10, 2014

NEW YORK — City sewer systems seek to prevent wastewater spills caused by storm surges like super storm Sandy.

NEW YORK — Wastewater treatment plants and sewer systems across the New York City region are still working to address the risk from storm surges like super storm Sandy, which can cripple systems and cause untreated wastewater to spill into waterways and homes, according to an article by The Wall Street Journal.

Ongoing efforts include $900,000 in flood-prevention studies in Westchester County, a request from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in New Jersey for $779 million in federal funds for a flood barrier and electrical equipment upgrades and an $810 million overhaul of the Bay Park Plant in Nassau County funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the article reported.

According to the article, however, it is difficult to protect wastewater treatment plants, which are typically located in low-lying areas near the water to harness gravity in moving sewage.

"The problems that were observed during Sandy were worse than these facilities had ever seen before, but it doesn't mean they're never going to see them again," said Alyson Kenward, a senior scientist at Climate Central, a nonprofit that researches climate change. "With sea level rise increasing, the risk of storm surge is also increasing."

In a report on Sandy's anniversary last fall, the Department of Environmental Protection recommended $315 million in upgrades to the city's sewage treatment plants and pump stations to prevent more than $2 billion in damages over the next 50 years due to flooding, noted the article.

Read the full article here.

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