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April 29, 2014

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Department of Environmental Protection Hosts Students and Cub Scouts at Third Annual Eel Count at Staten Island’s Richmond Creek Bluebelt

Continued Build-out of Staten Island’s Sewer System and Bluebelts has Improved Water Quality and Created Habitat for Eels and other Species

Photos of Today's Event can be viewed on DEP’s Flickr page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation today hosted students from the Saint Clare and New York Harbor Schools, as well as Cub Scouts from Pack 25, at the third annual  count of juvenile glass eels in Staten Island’s Richmond Creek Bluebelt.  The juvenile eels hatch in the Atlantic Ocean and migrate to healthy streams and rivers along the east coast where they can live for up to 20 years. Eel populations are an important indicator of water quality and experts have seen a resurgence in New York following more than $10 billion in harbor water quality investments over the last decade.

"Our waterways are healthier than they have been in more than a century and one of the best ways to ensure they continue to improve is to engage young New Yorkers,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.  “The annual eel count gets kids excited about the wildlife that depends on our oceans, rivers, and streams, and encourages responsible environmental stewardship.”
"Eel Research in New York waterways is an excellent way to connect students and the community with nature while gathering research that can be valuable for the future study of this species and its role in our ecosystem," said DEC's Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources Kathy Moser. "We thank the hundreds of volunteers and partner organizations that continue to support the Eel Project and its annual research efforts."

The 2014 eel monitoring program began in March and will continue throughout April, until the end of the eels’ migratory period.  So far thousands of glass eels have been observed in Richmond Creek. Staten Island is one of ten sites, ranging from New York City to Albany, where counts are taken as part of DEC’s Hudson River Eel Project.  In 2013, nearly 5,000 glass eels were observed in Richmond Creek and more than 85,000 were counted at the ten Hudson River Estuary monitoring sites.  Eel populations had been in decline along the east coast of the United States for decades due to a combination of over fishing, water quality degradation, and man-made barriers to migration, such as dams. 

Over the last decade DEP invested more than $10 billion to upgrade sewers and wastewater treatment plants to improve the health of New York Harbor and local waterways.   On Staten Island DEP has connected thousands of homes to the City’s wastewater treatment system, eliminating the need for septic tanks, and preserved or constructed more than 60 Bluebelt wetlands to reduce roadway flooding and improve harbor water quality.

Earlier this month, DEP announced a $24 million water and sewer infrastructure upgrade on the south shore of Staten Island that will allow 150 homes in the Rossville neighborhood to connect to the City’s sewer system. The project included the installation of nearly three miles of sanitary sewers, more than a mile of storm sewers and 52 catch basins, as well as new drinking water distribution mains.  DEP also recently announced the largest ever expansion of Staten Island’s network of Bluebelts, which will begin in the South Shore’s Woodrow area later this spring.  The $48 million infrastructure upgrade will add more than three miles of sewers, install hundreds of catch basins, and replace the existing water mains.

Bluebelts now serves approximately one third of Staten Island’s land area and over the next 10 years, DEP plans to invest an additional $848 million on improvements to the sewer system on Staten Island.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $14 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year.  This capital program is responsible for critical projects like City Water Tunnel No. 3; the Staten Island Bluebelt program, an ecologically sound and cost-effective stormwater management system; the city’s Watershed Protection Program, which protects sensitive lands upstate near the city’s reservoirs in order to maintain their high water quality; and the installation of more than 820,000 Automated Meter Reading devices, which will allow customers to track their daily water use, more easily manage their accounts and be alerted to potential leaks on their properties.For more information, visit, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600