Once Station 24 is reactivated, it will pump approximately 1,500 gallons of water per minute — which means flood relief may be coming to Southeast Queens very soon.
Staffers from the city Department of Environmental Protection gave a tour of the station, an old Jamaica Water Supply well pumping facility, on Friday to elected officials and community leaders
Next month the agency will activate the site at 180th Street and 106th Avenue, extracting about two million gallons of groundwater daily. It will not be used for drinking purposes, because the water is polluted by chemicals from the West Side Corp., a former adjacent dry cleaning plant.
The toxins will be filtered out and the water emptied into Jamaica Bay, according to the DEP. The agency is also in the process of identifying which other area wells are safe for use and can be reactivated.
Station 24 was identified as a Superfund site in 1998. Design and construction of a new facility on the site began in late 2008 and the total cost, which is being shared by DEP and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, is $12.3 million. The carbon used in the filtering process will be delivered weekly at a cost of $20,000. After a few years of operation, the amount needed should decrease as the water quality improves, according to Jonathan Hoffman, DEP’s project manager at the facility.
Station 24 consists of two wells, six granular activated carbon vessels and two chemical holding tanks filled with a sequestering agent. That substance is used to prevent iron from fouling the well screens in the GAC treatment units. Chemicals will be delivered in bulk tank trucks once a week.
Once the plant is online, the state will take over the day-to-day operations, Hoffman said. The facility has about 90 DEP workers, preparing to reactivate it, but that will drop to just two or three from the DEC once it’s fully operational.
“We have alarms that would actually dial out to those guys if there were a problem at the facility,” Hoffman said. “It’s not going to be staffed 24-7, but they will know if there is an issue and they need to show up here in the middle of the night. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen.”
Jamaica resident and activist Linda Hazel, who attended the meeting, inquired about the status of Station 6, where a pilot program to reduce groundwater and prevent flooding was discontinued due to a lack of funding.
Hoffman said the facility is presently considered inoperable, adding that some of the equipment is old with high iron concentrations that would need to be rehabilitated prior to re-opening the station.
“Because of the raw water quality and the expensive treatment required, competing funds, uncertainty about whether that was a good place to invest that $200 million, we dropped that Station 6 project,” said Mark Lanaghan, the DEP assistant commissioner of intergovernmental relations.
But the agency is re-examining the feasibility of reactivating Station 6, to offset water losses during the repair of the leaking Delaware Aqueduct, one of three tunnels that brings in the city’s water supply from upstate.
After Station 24 is up and running the agency will conduct a series of pilot tests to monitor the effects of the operation, such as noise and odor, on nearby residents.