On April 16th, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is hosting a Citywide & East River/Open Waters Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) meeting to update the public on potential plans to reduce combined sewer overflow in the Harlem River, Hudson River, East River, Upper New York Bay, Lower New York Bay, Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill, and the western portion of Long Island Sound.
SWIM has been following the development of the LTCPs, as they’ve been proposed and approved in waterways throughout the City, including Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal, the Bronx River, Coney Island Creek, and Flushing Bay and Creek. (See more about those plans here.)
This is the last of the Long Term Control Plans, yet we still find many issues with DEP’s data collection and analysis process. With faulty water quality data, we’re concerned DEP will propose inadequate solutions to clean up our waterways, as we’ve seen in many of the approved LTCPs. See below our questions and reasoning we’ll be posing to DEP, based on Riverkeeper analysis of a handful of water quality samples gathered by New York City Water Trail Association and The River Project, in collaboration with a network of partners convened by SWIM.
1: Why is DEP still using 2008 rainfall data to model water quality conditions? 2018 was one of the wettest years on record, resulting in terrible water quality results throughout the harbor. Yet as far as we know from DEP’s website, the water quality samples for the Citywide LTCP were only collected through 2017. Shouldn’t 2018 water quality data and rainfall patterns be used in the model to reflect the changes we’re experiencing from climate change? According to the NYC Panel on Climate Change, our region can expect to see a 1–8% increase in precipitation by the 2020s, and 4–11% increase by the 2050s. We’re already seeing rainfall patterns exceeding that rate; the 2018 sampling season was 14% rainier than 2008, the year DEP has selected to model water quality conditions in anticipation of climate change.
Water Quality Sampling Results from Water Trail Association:
2. DEP continues to sample mid-channel instead of near shore where people are getting into kayaks and getting in the water. Time and again, the mid-channel results show dramatically different results than the citizen science water quality results on shore. Shouldn't DEP consider attainment to be achieving swimmable water quality where people actually swim and recreate? How can we support citizen science (such as assistance with quality assurance protocols) and use citizen science data for compliance?
In the graphs below, citizen science data is in blue, and DEP data in purple.
3. What is DEP going to do about the two biggest CSO outfalls (WI-056 and NCB-014) in Citywide LTCP scope, which are also near water access points? Furthermore, why are there no Harbor Survey water sampling sites near either of those CSOs?
Note that under the Newtown Creek LTCP, NCB-014 will see an increase in CSO volume, from 607 to 646.5 million gallons a year, which will likely worsen water quality in Wallabout Channel.
4: Water quality is consistently poor in Hallet’s Cove and Bronx Kill, both kayak launch sites where people are actively recreating in the water. What are DEP’s plans to improve water quality here?
5: Why doesn’t DEP take water quality samples near Bushwick Inlet, the site of a future park and potential kayak launch?
Furthermore, according to the Newtown Creek LTCP, CSO volume will increase at the two CSO outfalls on either side of Bushwick Inlet by 13 million gallons a year. What will DEP do to improve water quality in Bushwick Inlet, rather than worsen it?
Please join SWIM Coalition in asking these questions to DEP at the LTCP meeting on April 16th:
The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law
2 Court Square West, Long Island City
Auditorium - 2nd Floor
A block from the Court Square station off E, M, G and 7 trains
The meeting begins at 6:30pm.