New pollution controls for Bronx River

These nets catch debris and prevent it from entering the Bronx River at four locations.
Photo courtesy of DEP
courtesy of DEP

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The City’s Department of Environmental Protection has netted ten tons of garbage in the past 14 months – from four nylon nets under the Bronx River.

It’s all part of the plan to prevent garbage and debris entering ingto what is being called the Bronx’s comeback river.

The nets, in a $26 million pilot program, were installed at four strategic locations – at West Farms Road, the Bronx Zoo, Bronx Park Avenue and Soundview Park – where storm water sewer locations are located.

Besides the nylon netting, which was installed in 2011, moveable screens on hydraulic lifts were also installed at those locations in late 2012.

The pollution controls will not, however, have any affect on the 16 miles of the Bronx River above 180th Street, up through Westchester county, said Damian Griffin, education director for the Bronx River Alliance.

“A lot of what ends up in the river comes through the sewer system, so it is definitely going to reduce the amount of physical garbage,” said Griffin. “But you still have debris coming from the north.”

Further complicating the matter, he said, is that all Westchester County storm sewers flow into the nearest body of water.

A possible way to mitigate the problem, he said, is through “green infrastructure,” like tree pits that soak up the water.

“These pollution control devices will help keep litter out of the Bronx and Upper East Rivers and ensure that New York City remains a place where people want to live, work, and raise a family,” said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

Borough President Diaz applauded the pollution control devices “along our borough’s jewel, the Bronx River,” calling them “a great investment for our future generations.”

“This program is about more than just keeping trash and debris out of a river, this is about building a community around our natural resources.”

Councilwoman Annabel Palma, Councilman Oliver Koppell, and Councilman Joel Rivera all expressed support for the new pollution controls, as did Linda Cox, the Bronx River Alliance’s executive director.

“As more and more New Yorkers explore the Bronx River for recreation and enjoyment, we are sure that they will appreciate this contribution to reducing pollution, along with other measures that DEP is taking to improve water quality.”

And lest any urban paddlers be concerned, neither the bar screens nor the nylon netting will impede canoeing on the river, said DEP spokesman Edward Timbers.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

Seen here is one of the locations while under construction.
Photo courtesy of DEP
courtesy of DEP

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