Monday, May 13, 2013

Mayor Bloomberg Holds Press Conference On NYC Water System Improvements Just Steps Away from A Very Foul Gowanus

Council Member James F. Gennaro, Mayor Bloomberg, DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland
DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland and Mayor Bloomberg
DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland
Today at noon, Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference at the Gowanus Canal Pumping Station to pat himself on the back for investing over $20 Billion on New York City's Water system since 2002. Joining him were DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland and Council Member and Chair of the Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, James F. Gennaro.
Bloomberg also announced that $190 million dollars has been allocated by his administration to upgrade the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel and Waste Water Pumping Station at the head of the canal. "Despite the delays caused by Hurricane Sandy, this year we will still complete the pump station as well as the flushing tunnel that will circulate water from Buttermilk Channel to the canal and will significantly improve water quality," he told the press.

DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland proudly mentioned that "these upgrades will not only increase capacity, they will help alleviate neighborhood flooding and reduce Combined Sewer Overflow into the canal by 34%."

Though this was good news for Gowanus, the real reason for the conference was made clear almost immediately. In his thinly disguised speech, Mayor Bloomberg, who has lobbied hard against the Environmental Protection Agency declaring the Gowanus Canal a Superfund Site, took a jab at the Federal Government

"Unfortunately, we have also had to content with underfunded mandates from the Federal Government that have meant higher costs and less efficiency. And you should complain to the Federal Government about these.  Over the last decade, 65% of DEP's capital spending went to address federal mandates. That alone costs the average NY City home owner $258 this year on their water bill. Some of these were necessary investments, but the fact that we were required to build them all regardless of immediate need or construction costs made all of the work more expensive and inefficient."

How very ironic that just steps away, the Gowanus Canal was looking and smelling even worse than it had in quite some time. Last week's heavy rain had caused raw sewage to flow into the canal and the surface of the water was littered with human waste.
I hope that Mayor Bloomberg had a chance to peek at the canal before dashing back to Manhattan.
Perhaps it would have helped him to understand that the 34% reduction in CSOs he was speaking of did not sound like all that much to members of the community.

And perhaps he would have felt just a bit foolish about opposing EPA's suggestion to install  retention basins to alleviate the problems in a more significant way.

Today's conference was nothing but grandstanding and an effort to smear the EPA in an attempt to delay dealing with the CSOs.

I have come to expect the very least from our three-term Mayor.


Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! the Flushing Tunnel is one of those "unfunded mandates" the city is referring to. The city wasn't even going to do that much work with out the Federal Clean Water mandate imposed on them by the State.

Is this DEP/Mayor's Office Press event their way of complaining they had to do the Flushing Tunnel work?

Detale said...

Bloomberg is a tyrant plain and simple. The man should be brought up on charges for his political bullying. His repeated attempts to force his will on all NYC are unforgivable to say the least. He is so out of touch with the "common man" it's not even funny anymore. He has no idea what real people go through day to day. He's a billionaire FFS how could he? I know I didn't vote for him but i'd sure be kicking myself in the ass if I did. I can't wait until he's out of office. Unfortunately no one much better is running for the job. Who knows maybe he'll buy another term at the last min.

Anonymous said...

How much Federal tax dollars has the EPA spent on the Gowanus Superfund?

Isn't the issue here that $190M of our City tax dollars has been spent to improve Gowanus water quality while the Feds continue to spend money on other waterways in the US and they refuse to allocate Federal Funds to our Canal?

Rob said...

Isn't the whole purpose of declaring the canal a Super Fund site so the EPA can go and sue the companies that polluted it in the first place? Maybe if the city and the state hadn't stuck us on the hook for Barclays we'd have more money for stuff like clean up.

Anonymous said...

an amazing display of arrogance.. how can a mayor that puts new "mandtes" on its citizens for what we can eat, how much soda we can buy, where we drive, what we pay in rent, where we may smoke etc etc have the gall to complain about the federal government issuing mandates to enforce a 1972 law for the city to clean up its waters by getting the human sewage out.. just 6 more months of little general

Anonymous said...

How much money has the Federal Government collected from NYC in fines since the 1972 law and where did those funds go? Ohio?

Is it less costly to City taxpayers to pay fines than to spend $170M on pump repair?

Anonymous said...

The Flushing Tunnel was a 19th Century solution to the foul water conditions in the canal (pre-sewage treatment plant technology).

How does the city consider reviving this old infrastructure to be enough to prepare the canal area for their future vision of massive housing developments like Lightstone?

Mister Mayor, just as removing 1/3 of the sugar from a 24 oz soda doesn't make it healthy, neither will removing 1/3 of the sewage from the canal make it better. The concentration of sewage in the canal is just too high for the DEP's numbers to matter, especially if you want to load the land area with so manu more sewage producing housing structures.