Residents receive update on flooding mitigation

Vincent Sapienza, Acting Commissioner, DEP
Vincent Sapienza, Acting Commissioner, DEP

When it rains, it floods in Southeast Queens.

Southeast Queens has a long standing issue with flooding.  On Wednesday, December 8th, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) delivered an update regarding their Stormwater Management Plan for Southeast Queens.  The City Council has made a $1.7 billion dollar investment in capital in response to rainfall and storm water flooding.  The update included remarks by DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza in addition to key spokesmen from the agency. 

DEP has specified various green and gray projects to help curtail the water.  Green projects are those which use natural infrastructure: rain gardens, pond restorations and the like to assist in water collection.  Those projects will help to positively affect the 27% of water which come from street and sidewalk runoff.    Grey projects are those which involve concrete structures i.e. the sewer constructions.  These projects are where the overwhelming vast amount of the money will be spent.  There are also bluebelt projects which integrate drainage systems with open spaces, habitats and/or wetlands area.  Bluebelt projects include the Brookville Triangle, which is currently in design; Twin Ponds and Baisley Pond Park, which are under construction and Springfield Lake which has been completed.

The update provided an overview of the projects that have been scheduled and how that schedule for completion was assembled, based on priority areas.  DEP collected five years of complaint history which identified 50 grids of 40 acres each.  Those grids were each prioritized by problem area, those which areas were hardest hit are slated to be addressed as soon as possible.  For each grid the root cause of the problem will be assessed and a solution, combined with the most cost effective strategy, will be applied.

The update also included steps homeowners could take to help protect their property and their neighborhoods from flooding.  Most were low or no cost methods like rain collection barrels which could then be used to water lawns, clearing catch basins, checking values, preventing runoff from sloped driveways and avoiding spilling grease down drains.  Several kiosks were on site for participants to gather information on those methods. 

What wasn’t mentioned during the presentation was an effective means to deal with Southeast Queens’ high water table.  Former Assembly Member William Scarborough, who once led the crusade against flooding issues for several years, highlighted the water table problem during the question and answer period.  The high water table is a key component in flooding and have led to the need for many businesses and residents to pump water out of their basements. 

The DEP is planning future updates on its progress in the coming year. 

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