2009-09-11 / Top Stories

A Clean Water Stimulus For Rockaway

By Nicholas Briano

The Rockaways have been included in a $220 million stimulus grant funded to New York City for water infrastructure improvements, announced this week by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson.

The funding is coming from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and will support projects that include improved drainage and $18 million to help pay for the upgrade to the Rockaway Water Pollution Control Plant's substation. The upgrade will ensure the long-term reliability of the plant's electrical system while making it more energy efficient, officials said this week.

The $18 million in stimulus money will help support the $30 million project currently underway at the water treatment plant at Beach 106 Street and Beach Channel Drive that will raise electrical equipment, such as pump motors, circuit breakers, and controls, to higher elevations, in anticipation of the rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

The equipment to be raised and upgraded is currently 25 feet below sea level, but the plans are to elevate the machinery to 14 feet above sea level.

The measure to reduce flooding in Rockaway and other flood threatened areas of the city is a $2 million project called "Green Streets." It is meant to reduce flooding from heavy rains in Staten Island, the Bronx and Rockaway by transforming existing roadway drainage into "green" infrastructure that will both beautify neighborhoods and protect local waterways from untreated stormwater runoff.

To accomplish this, the City says they will plant trees, build street planters and landscape rain swales, which will capture and store more water during heavy rains. Specific locations have yet to be determined along the peninsula. The project's construction is expected to begin in January 2010, completed in January 2012 and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The City will also use $45 million in newly available funding to upgrade sewer and water main infrastructure to relieve flooding in the area in conjunction with the "Green Streets" project.

"We have the nation's most sweeping urban environmental agenda, so we leave our children a greener, healthier city," Mayor Bloomberg said. "The infusion of stimulus dollars for water projects will bolster our aggressive programs and help us improve water quality in our rivers and bays, and reduce flooding in areas that have long suffered from storm water flooding - particularly in Southeast Queens. The stimulus funds will also be used for open space and open street greening projects, and will create jobs quickly with projects that will all begin in the next few months. I want to again thank President Obama and our entire Congressional Delegation for their work in delivering for New York City."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) will administer the entirety of the City's $220 million while working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority.

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