Newtown Creek (courtesy of Doug Letterman)

The Environmental Protection Agency released a control plan for Newtown Creek to divert 61 percent of the raw sewage and wastewater that overflows into the superfund site each year.

A public comment period is underway through January 27th to submit feedback on the plan.

Written comments on the proposed plan can be mailed or emailed to:

Mark Schmidt

Remedial Project Manager

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

290 Broadway, 18th Floor

New York, NY 10007

Email: schmidt.mark@epa.gov

Over 1 billion gallons of combined sewage overflow (CSO) ends up in Newtown Creek annually, which occurs when rainfall overwhelms the Newtown Creek Wasterwater Plant in Greenpoint.

The Brooklyn Eagle attended the EPA meeting last Monday and spoke with locals on the issue:

“It’s a huge disappointment and it’s really concerning,” Greenpoint resident Kevin Lacherra told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I don’t understand why a 61 percent reduction is good enough when we don’t even know if that will be the number with increased rainfall by the time it’s done. The city is going to look very different in the 2040s than it looks right now, and this crisis is going to be far worse.”

Lacherra added that the rainfall totals for the long-term plan, which are from 2008, are outdated and do not take into account the city’s growth or the increasing number and strength of rainstorms each year.

“They’re modeling rainfall based on the past,” he said. “They’re saying it will be sufficient, and it absolutely will not be sufficient. Sixty-one percent isn’t even a passing grade.”

Willis Elkins, executive director of Newtown Creek Alliance, said 100 percent reduction is almost impossible to achieve, but that he would like to see that number closer to 80 to 90 percent. He also argued the agency should reconsider how it measures the amount of waste entering the creek.

“It may be beneficial to evaluate CSO not just in terms of annual volume, but also the frequency of events, or how many days per year sewage is discharging to the creek,” he said. “This would give more context as to how often the waterway is actively being polluted and will only get worse with an anticipated increase of rainfall in the coming decades.”

There are two upcoming public two meetings to discuss the proposal with EPA reps and “oral and written comments will also be accepted at the meetings,” according to the EPA:

December 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services (43-31 39th Street) and December 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at P.S. 110 (124 Monitor St.).

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