Saturday, October 22, 2016
College Point concerned about pipe placement
From the Queens Tribune:
Nearly 100 College Point residents gathered in MacNeil Park on Saturday to protest the Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to build a stormwater outfall pipe in what environmentalists have said is a sensitive area.
The area in question contains wetlands that a local environmental organization called the Coastal Preservation Network (CPN), which called for the protests, has been working on restoring for nearly a decade. Over the years, CPN has orchestrated volunteer clean-ups of the waterfront area, planted sea grasses and installed oyster reefs to help the area thrive.
The pipe is part of a $132 million infrastructure project, funded by DEP and being constructed by the Department of Design and Construction. The stated goal of the project is to reduce sewer drainage into Flushing Bay and the Upper East River. Currently, three combined sewer outfalls overflow into Flushing Bay during heavy storms, flooding the area with untreated sewage mixed with rainwater.
The new outfall will be in a different section of the park, and will contain only stormwater—no sewage.
“DEP is investing more than $130 million to permanently end the annual discharge of nearly 50 million gallons of pollution into the waters surrounding College Point,” said DEP in a statement. “Contrary to the claims, it is quite clear that this work will significantly improve water quality and the health of nearby wetlands and oysters.”
Kathryn Cervino of the Coastal Preservation Network, the organization that organized the “Day of Outrage,” said that the efforts are an improvement for the overall health of Flushing Bay and the Upper East River. However, Cervino argued, by moving the location of the outfall, it could now overflow into the wetlands. And while the new overflow is ostensibly just stormwater, Cervino explained that during heavy storms, stormwater often picks up contaminants from the streets, like asphalt debris, road salt, deicing chemicals and oil from vehicles.
“It still has a lot of drawbacks for the wetlands,” she said. “We just want there to be some safeguards so that all our work hasn’t been in vain.”