York College and DEP to survey neighborhoods plagued with flooding


York College students are partnering with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to survey 200 southeast Queens homeowners about their experiences with flooding.

The 10 college students were chosen from classes taught by Dr. Ratan Dhar, York College’s assistant professor of earth sciences. They will use the surveys to determine the frequency and severity of the flooding and what might be causing it. DEP staff members will accompany students as they knock on homeowners’ doors within community boards 12 and 13.

“I am honored that York College has been selected to participate in this important study,” Dhar said. “This is a great opportunity for our students to put into practice what they have been learning in the classroom and in their field research. They will be contributing to the resolution of a long-standing problem in the very communities surrounding our campus.”

The homeowners were identified with the help of community groups, elected officials and 311 flooding complaints. The initiative began on Monday, June 8, and will last about three weeks. At the end of the survey, homeowners will have the opportunity to have a professional engineer assess their homes.

The students, who are mostly juniors and seniors, received Responsible Conduct of Research and Human Subjects Research certifications and training by borough coordinators from Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Students will also distribute copies of the Homeowner’s Guide to Flood Preparedness and teach homeowners how to properly dispose of grease, which can cause blockages in a sewer system.

The initiative is part of the DEP’s $6 billion multi-year capital construction program to build out the sewer system in south Queens. Many neighborhoods in the area do not have catch basins or storm sewers to drain precipitation, which ends up in roadways.

Some projects already in the planning and design phases include a $175 million Springfield Gardens upgrade to be completed later this year, which will  bring 9 miles of storm sewers and 8 miles of sanitary sewers to the area and a $5 million project to install an additional sewer line under 183rd Street at Jamaica Avenue.

“This door-to-door survey will collect detailed information that the DEP can use to develop better solutions for the chronic flooding that has damaged property and endangered lives in southeast Queens,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “Queens commends DEP Commissioner Lloyd for commissioning this important survey of homes in the area, and appreciates Professor Dhar and his York College students for undertaking this important outreach effort.”