Construction has begun on a $30 million project to build four litter capture devices that will improve the health and aesthetics of Newtown Creek.
Much of the trash and debris found in New York Harbor, and its connected waterways, originates as litter from city streets that gets washed into a catch basin and eventually makes its way into the sewer system. To help keep litter from reaching Newtown Creek, in late 2015 the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began installing below ground capture devices at four key locations within the sewer system in the vicinity of the Creek. The control devices include floating baffles and bending weirs to capture the litter and direct it to a wastewater treatment plant where it can be properly disposed of.
DEP has installed similar facilities along the Bronx River and the Gowanus Canal which have captured more than 200 tons of litter and debris. Construction of the Newtown Creek facilities is expected to be completed, and the technology activated, in 2017.
“Cleaning up and revitalizing Newtown Creek is one of our top priorities and this $30 million investment will help to capture trash and debris and ensure that it does not foul the waterway,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.
In addition to the litter capture devices, the city has 144,000 catch basins that are designed to trap litter before it can make its way into the sewer lines. DEP also operates skimmer boats that patrol New York harbor to capture floating debris, including wood, plastic, metal, rubber, and glass.
“This latest project by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will further help clean up this local waterway,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. By coordinating efforts at the local and federal levels, we can make Newtown Creek healthier and safer for the surrounding community.”
DEP has also partnered with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and GreeNYC to initiate a new public information campaign aimed at reducing consumer waste and street litter while also helping to improve the health and aesthetics of local waterways. The campaign will build upon the success of GreeNYC’s recent “B.Y.O.” (Bring Your Own) effort and aim to address these interconnected problems by reducing the amount of consumer waste produced in the first place.
Working with small businesses, the campaign will encourage New Yorkers to use reusable mugs, bottles and bags rather than their disposable counterparts, and digital ads and posters on bus shelters and DSNY trucks will help remind New Yorkers to bring reusable items when they’re on the go. In addition to addressing the issue of street litter and marine debris, the campaign will help to meet the OneNYC goals of sending zero waste to landfills and reducing waste disposal by 90 percent by 2030. DEP has already committed approximately $600,000 to the campaign.
“In scale, debris-capture devices may pale in comparison to the millions of dollars and decades of cleanup efforts at work in and around Newtown Creek; the impact however will prove to be great,” said State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan. “Similar City Department of Environmental Protection devices have removed hundreds of tons of litter from city waterways in as little as three years.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.5 million in New York City. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, facebook.com/nycwater, or twitter.com/nycwater.