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City pledges $115M to rescue Jamaica Bay marshland

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The city announced Thursday that it will be taking immediate action to reverse and repair the ecological damage done to Jamaica Bay.

Speaking at the city Department of Environmental Protection’s Paerdegat sewer overflow retention facility in Brooklyn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city will pledge $115 million to reduce the amount of nitrogen that goes into the 31-square-mile marshland and restore some of the hundreds of acres of marshland that have been lost over the last couple of decades.

“Jamaica Bay is important for the people who live on it or near it too and not just because of its rich biodiversi­ty,” the mayor said.

The bay has lost more than 70 percent of its saltwater marshlands over the last 80 years or so due to a high concentration of nitrogen, which causes marshes to decay. The element came from city wastewater plants located around the bay that have been discharging close to 40,000 pounds of nitrogen a day, according to the DEP.

The city funds will be used to upgrade the facilities with new equipment that would decrease the amount of nitrogen in the water.

Several environmental groups, including the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, have been urging the city, state and federal governments to put more time and money into saving the bay.

It is home to more than 400 species of birds, fish, reptile, amphibian and mammal species.

“It’s historic. This was a great accomplishment for everybody,” Dan Mundy, a member of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and lifelong Broad Channel resident, said of the city proposal.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 6:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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