2010-08-13 / Top Stories

Environmental Protection To Dredge Bay

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway has announced the start of dredging at Hendrix Creek, a 7,000-foot tributary at the northern boundary of Jamaica Bay. The $13.1 million project will remove accumulated combined sewer overflow

CSO) sediment from the upper portion of the creek to reduce odors in the surrounding community. In addition to the dredging work, DEP recently completed a $1.3 million wetland restoration project, adding 30,000 salt marsh plantings and 23,000 square feet of coastal grassland and shrubland to improve the overall water quality and ecology of the creek and Jamaica Bay.

Mayor Bloomberg announced $115 million of investments to further reduce nitrogen levels and restore marsh islands in the bay. And in June, we expanded the number of water quality testing sites in the bay by 50%. Now, we are restoring the natural habitat in one of the bay’s largest tributaries and dredging it to reduce odors in the community. Step by step, we are making the bay cleaner and healthier so that New Yorkers will be able to enjoy this ecological marvel for generations to come.”

Dredging will remove 20,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment at the uppermost 1,400 feet of the creek to eliminate a potential source of odors. The sediment is composed of material from combined sewer overflows which occur when stormwater and wastewater are discharged into surrounding waterways during heavy storms to prevent local wastewater treatment plants from being overwhelmed by increased stormwater flows. The hydraulic dredging method uses a cutter head, which loosens the belowwater sediment, and pumps, which vacuum the sediment through a flexible pipe onto barges. The pumped material is then dewatered by equipment on barges at the 26th Ward Wastewater Treatment Plant pier. Once dewatered, the material is then transported by barge for off-site processing and disposal. Hydraulic dredging reduces the overall project duration, results in less turbidity within the creek, and has less impact on the local habitat. The creek bottom will then be restored by placing an 18-inch layer of clean sand atop the dredged surface to cap the remaining sediment within the dredged area of the creek. It is anticipated that the project will be completed in late summer 2011.

The Hendrix Creek Wetland Restoration Project restored 30,000 square feet of salt marsh habitat and 23,000 square feet of a coastal grassland and shrubland habitat. The improved habitat allows for greater plant diversity and the return of native plants that had been previously displaced by the invasive ones. Restoring additional tidal salt marsh and adjacent plant communities in a tributary of Jamaica Bay helps provide key ecological functions, including: additional nursery, forage and refuge habitat for the 91 species of fish in the bay; use by migratory and resident birds; and water filtering.

Jamaica Bay is a 39-square-mile water body with a broader watershed of approximately 142 square miles that includes portions of Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County. The bay is a diverse ecological resource that supports multiple habitats, including open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrublands and brackish and freshwater wetlands. These habitats support fish, birds and many reptile, amphibian and small mammal species. The bay is a critical stop for birds along the Eastern Flyway migration route and has become an internationally renowned birding destination. Portions of the bay, most notably the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, have been designated as Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats by the federal and state governments.

The City announced in February that it would make $115 million in new investments to improve the overall water quality and mitigate marshland loss in Jamaica Bay. The investments include $100 million to install new nitrogen control technologies at wastewater treatment plants located on Jamaica Bay. The investments, made in concert with $95 million the City already has committed for nitrogen control upgrades, will reduce the nitrogen loads discharged into Jamaica Bay by nearly 50 percent over the next ten years.

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