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New DEP chief outlines Queens sewer plans

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The new commissioner of the city Department of Environmental Protection updated the Borough Board Monday on the hundreds of millions of dollars in sewer projects planned for Queens.

“I am keenly aware of many of the issues this community faces,” said DEP Commissioner Caswell Holloway. “Sewer investments in Queens are a major priority for the administration and they’re a major priority for me.”

From 2010-14, the city plans to spend $571 million on water and sewer projects in the borough, including $109 million within Community Boards 8, 12 and 13.

Holloway said southeast Queens, the Rockaways and parts of Whitestone lack storm sewers. He said the chronic flooding in southeast Queens is due to topography and a lack of infrastructure.

Borough Board members were given an update on the southeast Queens drainage plan, which is bounded by the Grand Central Parkway, the Cross Island Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway and the Belt Parkway.

Phase I of the drainage plan was completed last year and the commissioner just signed off on the final drainage plan a month ago, a DEP official said.

The Whitestone drainage plan, which costs $43.5 million to build storm sewers in the neighborhood, is to be conducted in three phases. The first phase is scheduled to be completed in fiscal year 2011, the second in fiscal year 2013 and the final phase in fiscal year 2017.

The College Point drainage plan is a $36 million endeavor consisting of four projects to relieve overtaxed sewers and limit combined sewer overflow.

Two of the projects are slated to be completed in fiscal year 2012 while the other two are set for fiscal year 2013.

DEP is also planning to unveil what it calls “Queens Bluebelt Initiatives,” a drainage planning technique that combines conventional storm sewers, natural wetlands and streams to manage stormwater.

The initiatives, planned to start June 1, are for Twin Ponds, a stream adjacent to Laurelton Parkway that flows into Jamaica Bay, Springfield Lake, the Brookville Triangle and Baisley Pond.

The Twin Ponds project, which costs about $15 million, involves building three sewers to capture rainwater and chanel it to Twin Ponds.

The DEP said the project will prevent erosion at Twin Ponds from high volume storm flows.

The Springfield Lake project is the final phase of a $94 million plan for Springfield Gardens; the first three phases were completed in 2008. The final phase is a $25 million plan to dredge Springfield Lake, which the DEP said will improve water quality in Jamaica Bay.

The $4.3 million Baisley Pond project, which will also help improve Jamaica Bay water quality, is slated for ´╗┐fiscal year 2012.

The first phase on the Brookville Triangle project is 90 percent complete, a DEP official said.

The project combines the construction of storm sewers with Bluebelt initiatives.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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