City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland on Tuesday announced a number of initiatives aimed at managing storm water and alleviating flooding in neighborhoods throughout Southeast Queens.
“The city’s sewer system protects public health and promotes economic growth, which is why we have invested more than $383 million over the last 10 years to continue to extend sewers throughout Southeast Queens,” Strickland said.
He said an additional $380 million has been earmarked over the next 10 years, where he said near-term investments will help to better manage storm water, reduce flooding, and improve the quality of life for the residents in the region.
Tuesday’s statement did not address problems caused by high groundwater levels, which residents and public officials from the area assert have greatly exacerbated flooding conditions since the city stopped pumping out the old Jamaica Water Service wells beginning in 1997.
Nevertheless, in Tuesday’s statement, Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica), expressed his appreciation. Scarborough has been one of the more vocal critics of the DEP’s anti-pumping policy.
“We recognize that no one initiative will resolve these issues and we look forward to continuing to work with DEP to provide an overall solution to these problems,” Scarborough said.
Strickland said the commercial and residential development of the area outpaced the extension of the city’s sewer system, leaving many neighborhoods without adequate numbers of catch basins or storm sewers.
Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) touted a storm sewer project already underway in St. Albans along Linden Boulevard.
“It will provide immediate and necessary relief to overwhelmed homeowners upon completion,” she said.
“Flooding has unfortunately become a norm rather than an isolated occurrence,” Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) said. “And in the near future residents can look forward to the beginning of a flood-free Southeast Queens.”
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said with several ongoing or planned projects in his district, residents and business owners desperately need them to be finished.
The statement issued by Strickland’s office said surveys and analyses are ongoing, and that the DEP expects to approve other work in 2014.
Other projects in the DEP’s capital construction program include the final phase of the $175 million Springfield Gardens upgrade that will be completed in the fall of 2014 that will bring nine miles of storm sewers and eight miles of sanitary sewers to the area; the planned $26 million upgrade for the Brookville Boulevard area; an $18 million project that will bring high-level storm sewers to the Twin Ponds neighborhood; and a $5 million project to install an additional sewer line under 183rd Street at Jamaica Avenue.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who will become deputy Queens borough president in January, said constant vigilance from residents and officials is as important as constant funding.
“Groundwater and flooding issues within Southeast Queens cannot be resolved without total cooperation from all involved and we must stay vigilant to ensure the funding continues,” he said.
“It is critical that everyone affected participate by contacting any of our offices to detail your problem so a complete review and response can be determined,” Comrie added.