New York — New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd announced that work will commence this spring on a $22 million sewer upgrade project that modeling shows will prevent approximately 400 million gallons of pollution from being discharged into Westchester Creek each year. The subsurface work will take place at two key junction points within the area’s sewer system, located near Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Morris Park, and will raise and lengthen the weirs which direct the wastewater to the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The work is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019 and DEP will work closely with elected officials and the Community Board to address any construction-related concerns. Details of the project were presented to Community Board 11 on March 21.

“To help protect the environment and improve the quality of life for residents of the Bronx, we will invest $22 million to optimize the capacity of the existing sewer system and significantly reduce the overflow of pollution into Westchester Creek,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “We will also be building hundreds of curbside gardens throughout the area to collect stormwater from the streets and further relieve pressure on the sewers. In combination, we expect these projects will significantly improve the health of local waterways.”

Throughout the roughly 7,500 miles of sewers located under the streets of New York City are numerous regulators, or junction points, where wastewater is either directed to a wastewater treatment plant or sent directly to a nearby water body. During a dry weather day, all the wastewater produced in the city, about 1.3 billion gallons on average, gets cleaned at wastewater treatment plants. However, during heavy rain storms, the amount of stormwater entering the combined sewers can exceed the capacity of the system and, in order to avoid backups into homes and businesses, the excess flows over weirs in the regulators and gets diverted to a local water body.

This project will upgrade two of the key regulators located within the roughly 16,000-acre Hunts Point drainage area. The subsurface work will include relocating some utilities, expanding the regulator chamber areas in order to raise and lengthen the weirs to direct more wastewater to the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant and any necessary structural repairs. The project is one component of an agreement between DEP and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to improve harbor water quality throughout New York City.

The two regulators slated for upgrades are located at:

  • Morris Park Avenue and Eastchester Road
  • Eastchester Road north of Waters Place

Over the last decade, DEP has invested more than $10 billion in upgrades to wastewater treatment plants and related efforts to reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) and the cleanliness and health of New York City harbor water continues to improve to levels not seen in more than a century.

However, CSOs remain the city’s primary harbor water quality challenge. To further reduce CSOs, the City launched the Green Infrastructure Plan, an alternative approach to improving water quality that combines traditional infrastructure upgrades, such as the Hunts Point sewer upgrades, and the integration of green infrastructure to capture and retain stormwater runoff before it ever enters the sewer system.

In the Westchester Creek area, DEP has roughly 200 specially designed curbside gardens, or bioswales, under design now and more could be added this spring. Bioswales collect and absorb stormwater before it ever reaches the sewer system where it can contribute to CSOs. Construction of the bioswales will begin in early 2017 and the work will primarily take place in the neighborhoods of Parkchester, Woodlawn, Co-Op City, Bronxdale, Allerton, Eastchester and Williamsbridge.