NYC's CSO LONG Term Control Plans

What's Being Done to Address Combined Sewer Overflows in NYC?

 

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is required to develop CSO Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs) to reduce the overflows that discharge into high-priority NYC waterbodies (listed below). So far, DEP has submitted ten LTCPs, available here, to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Nine of the plans have already been approved by DEC. 

 

The City's proposed CSO Long Term Control Plans will not make our waterways safe for recreational activities! SWIM Coalition is calling for the plans to be improved! 
See the fact sheets in the box to the right for more details on the flawed plans.

 

As they stand right now, once the proposed plans are completed, they will leave hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage overflows in each waterbody annually, on dozens of occasions per year. Many of the plans do not reduce overflow volume at all and instead call for diverting raw sewage into the East River or dumping chlorine into raw sewage before discharging it to rivers, creeks, and bays.

 

SWIM sent a letter to the State advising them NOT to approve the LTCP's. Here is a link to our letter. 

YOU CAN TAKE ACTION TOO!! Click here to send a message to our elected officials letting them know NYC needs to stop sewage overflows into waterways where New Yorkers swim, wade, boat and fish! 

Approval Status of Each ltcp:

Alley Creek & Little Neck Bay

LTCP approved by DEC, March 2017

Factsheet

Bronx River

LTCP approved by DEC, March 2017

Facsheet

Coney Island Creek

LTCP Approved by DEC, April 2018

Factsheet

Flushing Bay & Creek

LTCP approved by DEC, March 2017

Factsheet

Gowanus Canal

LTCP approved by DEC, March 2017

Hutchinson River

LTCP approved by DEC, March 2017

Jamaica Bay

Pending DEC Approval

Factsheet

Newtown Creek

LTCP Approved by DEC, July 2018

Factsheet

Westchester Creek

LTCP approved by DEC, August 2017

Citywide LTCP 

As of Nov. 2018, DEP has requested an extension for this plan to March of 2020.

This plan will address CSO overflows that are discharged into the East River, Hudson River,

Harlem River, Upper and Lower New York Harbor, Kill Van Kull and Arthur Kill and the western portion of Long Island Sound. 

SWIM Coalition is actively engaging stakeholders

SWIM has organized and participated in a series of community workshops and meetings near the ten waterways that have a CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP). We make sure that the public and waterway stewards have information about the plans, know how they can participate in the development of the plans and understand how the plans will impact their communities for generations to come.

SWIM's Clean Water Steward Handbook outlines the purpose of LTCP's and takes a deep dive into what's at stake and why it is important for local stakeholders to get involved in the development of the plans by attending the City’s public meetings and asking important questions about how the plans will provide water quality improvements.  

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PRINCIPLES FOR CLEAN WATERWAYS IN NEW YORK CITY

Many SWIM Coalition members have signed onto our Principles for Clean Waterways in New York City, which outline how to ensure fishable and swimmable waters citywide. These principles have been shared with DEP and DEC, as well as with the NYC Council, Borough Presidents, NYC Mayor’s Office, and other elected officials.

 

The Principles call for CSO Long Term Control Plans that:

  • Ensure decision making is inclusive and transparent

  • Meet federal health standards

  • Focus on reducing volume and frequency of CSOs throughout the city

  • Do not kick the can down the road

  • Prioritize green infrastructure

  • Protect communities and guarantee equity

  • Protect fish and coastal habitat by reducing nitrogen pollution

  • Develop smarter and fairer approaches to funding water quality infrastructure

  • Use a holistic planning approach to address all pollution sources in all New York City waters

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SWIM Coalition Members are advocating for stronger LTCPs

SWIM Coalition member delegations have met with the New York City Council Committee for Environmental Protection and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and NYC DEP to convey our concerns about the City’s LTCPs and the coinciding Green Infrastructure Plan. That fact is: the plans do not do enough to reduce stormwater runoff or combined sewer overflow volume.  

 

SWIM and our allies have sent public comment letters to the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation calling on them NOT to approve the City's proposed CSO Long Term Control Plans. See our blog post about this here. 

 

In June 2017, nine SWIM Coalition member organizations came together to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - which oversees the LTCP approval process - for lax oversight of NYC’s waters. The lawsuit argues that the EPA has not enforced its own ruling that New York State must, by 2015, switch to a more scientifically accurate bacteria-indicator standard for assessing water quality. Not only has the State not adopted more effective scientific testing, it has not required the City to use these more modern standards in their development of the CSO Long Term Control Plans. In other words: New York City’s plans to handle sewer and stormwater overflows are based on outdated water-quality assessment methodology!

 

Coalition members are working with their elected officials and calling on the City to improve the LTCPs, implement more green infrastructure, and modernize its water-quality assessment standards.

New Yorkers are SPeaking up

SWIM Coalition members and advocates from around the City recently testified at a City Council public hearing on the City's Wastewater Infrastructure. See our blog post about the hearing here. 

And here is a link to SWIM's testimony.

Some advocates are getting creative! The Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Newtown Creek Alliance have obtained the City’s approval to implement catch basin stenciling programs in Brooklyn and Queens. The stencils, pictured right, warn people against pouring toxins down storm drains. 

SWIM Coalition supported the 2017 launch of the Waterfront Alliance Harbor Scorecard, which provides information - and a score - for each waterbody in NYC to inform citizens about the health of their local waterways. 

SWIM and our allies have sent public comment letters to the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation calling on them NOT to approve the City's proposed CSO Long Term Control Plans. See our blog post about this here. 

What comes next? 

 

 

 

 

In 2018 SWIM will continue our campaign to ensure that the City's  plans to improve water quality in NYC's waterways meet federal health standards for safe contact and recreation. See our recent e-blast which contains an outline of our 2018 agenda here. 

 

Follow our blog for the latest information, including registration information for important public meetings.

NCA stencil

Image: Newtown Creek Alliance catch basin stencil

SWIM members at City Hall (during the launch of the WFA Harbor Scorecard) calling for the City and State to do better in cleaning up our waterways!!

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SWIM Coalition is sponsored by the NYC Soil & Water Conservation District and Riverkeeper, Inc. Your donations to SWIM's work are tax deductible under the IRS code170(c)3. 


Donations to SWIM are managed by Riverkeeper, Inc.