DEP’s proposal to redirect wastewater will take too long: experts
PROPOSALS ON HOW to reduce the levels of nitrogen being dumped into Jamaica Bay may not work fast enough to save the bay’s vanishing salt water marsh, environmentalists warn.
Members of the Jamaica Bay Advisory Committee Task Force said that the city Department of Environmental Protection’s proposals – including one that would tunnel wastewater through the bay into the Atlantic Ocean – would cost billions of dollars over many years.
“The marsh will be gone by then,” said Dan Mundy, a member of the task force, which was appointed by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council. Scientists have predicted that Jamaica Bay’s marsh will vanish in 20 years.
Since 1924, the bay has lost over 1,400 acres of tidal salt marsh. While the reasons for the shrinkage are not totally clear, environmentalists believe nitrogen emitted from nearby wastewater treatment plants is the major culprit.
The Queens News obtained a 3-inch-thick DEP report that was submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation under a 2002 administrative consent order. The DEP had been found to have allowed too much nitrogen to be released into the bay, and in its report suggests more than a dozen long-term – and expensive – projects to reduce nitrogen levels.
The proposals involve forcing one, some or all of the Jamaica, 26th Ward, Coney Island and Rockaway waste treatment plants in Brooklyn and Queens to meet applicable water quality standards.
“The ongoing effort to protect Jamaica Bay is a very high priority for the DEP,” said DEP spokesman Ian Michael.
Mundy said the DEP submitted its report in October, without input from the committee. But the DEC has agreed to hold a public forum Feb. 27 in which the committee will share its opinions about the report.
“The advisory committee continues to work with the DEP staff to put together a pla
“The next step is that the DEC will conduct a technical review of the report and will provide the city with our comments,” Wren said.
BY WARREN WOODBERRY JR.
Originally published on January 23, 2007