DEP to modernize sewers in Flushing and Bowery bays

By Madina Toure

The city Department of Environmental Protection will start working on a $33 million sewer upgrade project this spring to prevent 225 million gallons of sewage from being released into Flushing and Bowery bays every year.

The underground work will occur at five key junction points within the sewer system, located between LaGuardia Airport and Horace Harding Expressway.

It will also raise and lengthen the weirs, or barriers, that will direct the wastewater to the Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, next to the Steinway neighborhood west of LaGuardia.

A DEP spokesman said most of the work will be underway around March or April. The work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018.

“To help clean up Flushing Bay and Bowery Bay and improve the quality of life for the residents of northern Queens, we will invest $33 million to optimize the capacity of the existing sewer system and significantly reduce the overflow of pollution,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said.

The five sites slated for upgrades are at the LaGuardia Airport Maintenance Yard; Ditmars Boulevard and 100th Street; Ditmars Boulevard and 31st Drive; 108th Street and 43rd Avenue; and 108th Street and Horace Harding Expressway.

The DEP spokesman said work will begin at each of the five locations at different times.

The DEP presented the details of the project to Community Board 4’s Parks and Environmental Committee in November. A meeting with Community Board 3 is expected to take place this month. City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), chairman of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, praised the plan.

“Combined with our Green Infrastructure Plan, which implements alternative green infrastructure to capture stormwater before it enters sewers, this project will improve the health of northern Queens waterways,” Constantinides said.

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) lauded sewer system upgrades in East Elmhurst and Corona.

“This will make a noticeable difference in the quality of life of homeowners and residents that have suffered from sewage backups in the past,” Ferreras-Copeland said.

The DEP said the Army Corps of Engineers’ recently completed dredging that deepened the navigation channel and removed sediment in Flushing Ba is a separate project.

The work at 108th Street beneath the Long Island Expressway overpass will only take place during the overnight hours. All lanes of vehicular traffic will be open during the day, with no effect on traffic on Horace Harding Expressway.

From Monday to Friday, the work will take place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., during which two of the six lanes of vehicular traffic will be closed. All lanes of traffic will be reopened at 6 a.m. Weekend work, if necessary, will take place from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.

In Flushing and Bowery bays , DEP has about 500 curbside gardens, or bioswales—either under construction now or recently completed—that collect and absorb stormwater, mostly in Corona, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Rego Park and Middle Village.

The DEP said it has invested more than $10 billion in upgrades to wastewater treatment plants and related efforts to reduce combined sewer overflows, when a diluted mixture of rainwater, human waste and sewage is discharged into local waterways when the sewer becomes full.

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