UPDATE: The repair to the underwater pipe was completed and the pump station at Eastchester Place and Hollers Avenue has been up and running, according to a DEP spokesperson. The article previously mentioned the underwater pipe was undergoing repairs and the waste from the adjacent pump station was being transferred to another location.
An integral part of the Bronx’ sewage system burst, threatening bucolic wetlands just south of the borough’s border with Pelham.
On Saturday, February 3, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection detected a leak in a sewer main around 9:15 a.m.
The pipe transports wastewater under the Hutchinson River from a DEP sewer pump station at the corner of Eastchester Place and Hollers Avenue, outside Co-op City, to the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Although DEP crews responded to the leak immediately, shutting down the pump station and plugging the leak, the amount of raw sewage released has still not been determined, according to a DEP spokesperson.
Along with fast action, DEP also notified the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as local elected officials and Community Board 12, which encompasses that area.
“We’re thankful they notified us and our concern is, environmentally, that its going to have an impact on us, on the wildlife,” said George Torres, district manager of CB 12.
No further sewage has leaked into the Hutchinson River since the shutdown on Saturday and DEP does not predict any major negative environmental impacts to the river’s ecosystem due to the leak.
“The natural tidal action of the river will clear out any remaining pollution,” said the DEP spokesperson.
While the Bronx is no stranger to sewage leaks and their effects, this is the first leak in this part of the Hutchinson River that Torres recalled learning about in his two and a half year tenure at CB12.
“From the community’s perspective, we want to hear it first hand,” continued Torres.
“I’m always very appreciative that DEP reaches out and lets us know because when someone calls us we want to have the information.”
On Monday, February 5, professional construction divers remained on the scene making repairs to the underwater pipe.
While the line is under repair, DEP crews are pumping the wastewater from the Eastchester and Hollers station into tank trucks to be disposed at another nearby station, according to a DEP spokesperson.
The station at Eastchester Place and Hollers Avenue serves the Bronx on the east side of the Hutchinson River, according to a spokesperson.
“We’re in fairly constant communication with all the eco groups that are up here,” explained Torres. “We’re pretty active that way, but there’s been no concern from them yet that this would have a negative impact.”
Around this time of year, sewage pipe breaks are common as the water in the pipes freeze and expand in the colder weather, causing them to break.
The cause of the sewer main leak remains under investigation.