Westchester Creek to benefit environmentally from $22 million sewer upgrade

The red stars show where the two regulators that will be upgraded are located: Eastchester Road near Waters Place and Eastchester Road near Morris Park Avenue.
Photo courtesy of DEP

Major upgrades to two underground sewer junctures to improve the ecology of Westchester Creek were announced.

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection will substantially enlarge two underground ‘regulators’ or sewer junctures under Eastchester Road to reduce the discharge of raw sewage into Westchester Creek.

About 400 million gallons of sludge will be diverted to the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant annually.

The agency announced that the $22 million project is slated to be completed by the end of 2019, and that it will coordinate the construction work with the surrounding community to mitigate the inconvenience at Eastchester Road and Morris Park Avenue and at Waters Place.

Elected officials representing the area embraced the project, citing the environmental benefits to the creek.

Initial reaction from Community Board 11, however, indicates that there is concern about the impact the project could have on traffic, said its district manager Jeremy Warneke.

Regarding the project, Congressman Joseph Crowley stated that he was encouraged to see DEP making the investment. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. concurred.

“This is a significant investment in the infrastructure of our borough, one that will lead to a cleaner Westchester Creek and improve the overall quality of the borough’s environment,” said Diaz.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto called waterways a precious resource and he commended DEP for minimizing the impact of overflow wastewater into Westchester Creek.

The reconstruction has been a long time in the making, said Councilman James Vacca. It will benefit the Ferry Point community and Lehman High School, both located adjacent to the creek, he said.

The councilman’s office received many complaints about the odor and appearance of the creek, and the issue has dogged the body of water since his time as Community Board 10’s district manager, a decade or more ago.

“I think it has been apparent for years; anyone who looks at Westchester Creek knows that this project is long overdue,” said Vacca. “We have had an overflow situation for some time, and we need something to prevent pollution here.”

The councilman said that it was important to make sure that all of Westchester Creek was cleaned up, and not just part of it, and this project is an inclusive approach to that end.

Dotti Poggi, of the Friends of Ferry Point Park, believes that when the project comes to fruition, it will be good for the channel of water.

“This project will definitely upgrade Westchester Creek tremendously,” she said, adding that the water quality still will not be improved enough to make it safe for swimming, a long-range goal of hers.

She said she expects this project to be an incremental step in improving the creek’s water quality.

Something definitely needs to be done about the creek, said Warneke, but some CB 11 members are also concerned about the impact on traffic where the construction will occur.

“I foresee disruption,” the district manager said, explaining that the thoroughfare that will be dug up to reach the regulators includes two bus lines and a number of businesses.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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