Trying to Pump New Life Into the Newtown Creek

City To Build Maspeth Aeration Plant

Hoping to infuse some life into the Newtown Creek, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is planning to build a plant in Maspeth that will inject oxygen directly into the polluted waterway, the Times Newsweekly has learned. In its Citywide Statement of Needs for Fiscal Years 2013-2014, the city outlines plans to construct two aeration facilities alongside the creek, one of which will be located on a 71,000 sq. ft. plot of land at 58-26 47th St., between 58th Road and Grand Avenue.

According to the statement, the aeration plant is being built as a result of a “consent decree” with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) “to improve the water quality of Newtown Creek and its tributaries for eventual public use.”

An industrial waterway serving businesses in both Brooklyn and Queens for decades, the Newtown Creek is now recognized as a federal “Superfund” site and targeted for a massive cleanup to remove decades of accumulated pollution, including oil and various chemicals.

Some aquatic life has been known to exist in areas of the creek, but in recent years, the waterway itself has been found to have nitrogen and pollution levels considered too high to sustain any kind of life.

Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the Times Newsweekly that, in some parts of the creek, the oxygen level is at or close to zero.

The aeration facility, once completed, will inject oxygen through pipes directly into the Newtown Creek, according to the city, thereby elevating the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

“By increasing the dissolved oxygen concentration, the habitat for aquatic life can improve significantly,” the citywide statement noted, adding that an aeration facility built “at the upper formation of Newtown Creek” in Brooklyn has been effective at improving water quality and dissolved oxygen concentrations.”

Representatives of the DEP are scheduled to explain the plan further at a meeting of the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone this Tuesday, Apr. 23. Giordano added he hoped to have DEP officials present the plan at a future meeting of the board and/or its Environmental Services Committee.

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