In an effort to reduce flooding and clean New York City’s waterways, the DEP recently announced the completion of the cleaning of southeast Queens’ sewers.
Debris, which weighed over 1,500 tons and filled nearly 100 garbage trucks, was removed during the cleaning of 12.2 miles of large sewers, called inceptors, in southeast Queens.
The cleaning will allow the sewers to handle more stormwater during heavy rains, which will reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) – a combination of stormwater and wastewater that can be discharged when sewers surpass capacity – into Jamaica Bay. Reducing CSO will improve the water quality and ecological health of the bay while also reducing flooding in surrounding communities.
Southeast Queens was the first area to be cleaned in the DEP’s two-year plan to clear sewer lines throughout the city due to the high levels of debris which included tires, large rocks and even a 15-foot ladder. Prior to the cleaning, it was found that debris constituted more than 20 percent of pipe volume in this area.
“We started this effort in Jamaica because we know that localized flooding is a problem for some residents, and to protect Jamaica Bay – one of the ecological gems of New York City,” said DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway. “The most cost-effective way to reduce combined sewer overflows is to maximize the capacity of our existing sewer network.”
The commissioner added that optimizing the sewer systems capacity can help save New Yorkers more than $2 billion in addition to reducing flooding and CSO.
Sediment and illegally dumped-debris can accumulate in inceptors over the years. To locate this debris the DEP used sonar and closed-circuit television. Once the areas with debris were found, the DEP used two state-of-the-art Vactor trucks with vacuums used to remove debris and water jets that cleared any clogs found.
Northeast Queens is the next area slated to be cleaned.
The cleaning of the sewers complements the over $1 billion the city has invested through 2019 to improve water quality by capturing overflows.
For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dep.