Monday, October 31, 2011

New Tactics and Billions to Manage City Sewage
The Bloomberg administration is set to commit $2.4 billion in public and private investment to applying new environmental technology to an old problem: the flow of untreated sewage and storm water into New York City’s waterways.

City officials announced ... that the State Department of Environmental Conservation had tentatively assented to a proposal by the city to introduce infrastructure to retain storm water before it reaches the sewer system and overloads it.  The approach reflects a shift from traditional sewage-control methods like underground storage tanks and tunnel systems to techniques like green roofs with plantings, porous pavement for parking lots and depressions for collecting water in parks.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency promotes these newer forms of infrastructure as a cost-effective and environmentally preferable alternative to conventional overflow management.

Sewer overflows are the biggest water-quality problem in the metropolitan region, preventing many waterways from meeting federal standards for fishing, swimming and healthy habitats for wildlife. Each year, up to 30 billion gallons of overflow enters New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay, Newtown Creek and other waterways.

The city plans to spend $1.5 billion of its own money in the next 20 years on the infrastructure project. An additional $900 million in private investment is to be secured by imposing requirements for residential and commercial development, like limits on the amount of runoff allowed from a new project. (The city will still spend $1.6 billion more over the same period on traditional sewage-control projects.)
City officials said features like plantings would help reduce the sewage overflows by 40 percent by 2030 and cut the city’s sewer management costs by $2.4 billion over 20 years, helping to keep water bills down for utility customers

by Mireya Navarro
The New York Times
October 19, 2011

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