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January 29, 2010


Michael Saucier/Mercedes Padilla/Angel Roman (718) 595-6600

DEP Meets Wastewater Treatment Performance Standard Ahead of Requirement

Milestone shows investments in plant infrastructure have a direct impact on water quality

Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Cas Holloway and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced that significant investments have dramatically increased performance at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Three years ahead of this requirement, New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants will be able to meet the Clean Water Act’s 85% pollutant removal requirement harbor-wide. Since 1995, ongoing construction has required the City to operate under a lower standard, but today, the City’s plants are regularly exceeding the required monthly removal of key pollutants. Going forward, the City will meet — and be held accountable for meeting — this critical monthly standard. 

DEC has allowed DEP to operate its plants under a special aggregate performance target of 82% pollutant removal for Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and Carbonaceous Biochemical Oxygen Demand (CBOD) in colder months, and 85% in warmer months, when wastewater treatment biological processes operate more efficiently. The special limit recognized seasonal performance variability, and the challenge of operating the Newtown Creek plant while simultaneously undertaking a $5 billion plant upgrade. Newtown Creek is the only one of the City’s 14 plants that is not currently certified to operate at the Clean Water Act Secondary Treatment standard of 85% removal for TSS and CBOD. Meeting the monthly limit is a key milestone toward the City’s entire wastewater system achieving the Clean Water Act’s Secondary Treatment Standards. 

"The end of the special limit is a significant step forward in the City’s efforts to improve water quality, and shows that the billions of dollars Mayor Bloomberg has invested in wastewater treatment are paying off," said Commissioner Holloway. "The fact that we could reach this milestone in the middle of construction is a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of DEP’s plant operators, and is a prime example of how the City and our regulatory partners can work together to get results; I want to thank Commissioner Grannis and his team at DEC for working with us, and being with us here today."

"This achievement represents an important milestone in our efforts to ensure cleaner water, better compliance and a healthier neighborhood for the Newtown community," said Commissioner Grannis. "Some fifteen months ago, the state and city reached a landmark agreement to improve compliance at the city’s wastewater treatment plants. Since then, DEC and DEP have worked cooperatively to produce tangible results." 

DEP manages the City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents. New York City’s water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the City. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,400 miles of sewer lines take wastewater to 14 in-City treatment plants. DEP also manages storm water throughout the City, and ensures that the City’s facilities comply with the Clean Water Act.

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600