DEP announces upgrades to fight flooding in Utopia Parkway

By Madina Toure

The city Department of Environmental Protection has unveiled upgrades on Utopia Parkway and 65th Avenue in Fresh Meadows that were made to help mitigate long-standing flooding problems in the area.

The DEP sealed the manhole cover in the middle of Utopia Parkway and 65th Avenue, which it determined was the primary source of water coming into the street.

The agency also installed duckbill check valves in the catch basins, which would ensure that the basins are functioning properly and are able to discharge water into the sewer system.

The DEP expects the two upgrades to reduce flooding by about 65 percent in the area, Lancman said.

“It’s not an ultimate, complete, 100 percent solution,” Lancman said in an interview with TimesLedger. “There’s no one thing that the city can do to prevent flooding, but this should reduce flooding significantly.”

Eric Landau, the DEP’s associate commissioner of public affairs, said the initiatives have already helped address flooding in the area.

“These improvements represent a great collaboration between DEP engineers and members of the community,” Associate Commissioner Eric Landau said in a statement. “And this week’s heavy rains demonstrated that the infrastructure upgrades DEP recently completely worked and helped prevent flooding.”

Utopia Parkway had floods in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In December, the DEP said it was considering raising manhole covers and installing bioswales to address flooding in the area.

DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd is now required to ensure that catch basins are inspected at least once a year. The law, introduced by Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) and co-sponsored by Lancman, will go into effect July 1, 2016.

It also requires basins to be unclogged or repaired nine days after an inspection or the receipt of a complaint about a clogged or malfunctioning basin.

Lancman, the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association and the DEP will be hosting a town hall regarding solutions to the flooding problems in Utopia Parkway June 24 at 7 p.m. at 64-14 Utopia Parkway.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.