DEP Report Identifies Strategies to Improve the Ecological Health of Jamaica Bay
More Than Ten Best Management Practices to be Tested for Use in New York City
Partnerships with Government Agencies Key to the Future of Jamaica Bay
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan, which outlines a comprehensive set of strategies to restore and maintain the water quality and ecological integrity of Jamaica Bay. The two volume document, which took just under a year and a half to produce, includes a thorough profile of the Jamaica Bay Watershed and a blueprint for the future management of the Bay. Most notably, the plan builds on the Mayor’s PlaNYC, recommending a series of Best Management Practices for storm water management.
The Jamaica Bay effort anticipates the participation of other city agencies, and will be coordinated with PlaNYC’s efforts to address citywide storm water management issues through the Interagency BMP Taskforce, which is comprised of over 14 city agencies and is coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability as part of PlaNYC.
The Jamaica Bay Plan also includes the proposal by DEP of additional nitrogen control methods at two wastewater treatment plants located on Jamaica Bay. These additional controls will have a beneficial impact on water quality by reducing nutrient loading into the Bay. Water quality improvements will be further enhanced by habitat restoration in selected areas of Jamaica Bay where oyster reefs and eel grass, which were once native habitats, may be reintroduced.
Jamaica Bay is a 39-square-mile water body with a broader watershed of approximately 142 square miles that includes portions of Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County. The Bay is a diverse ecological resource that supports multiple habitats, including open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrublands and brackish and freshwater wetlands. These various habitats support 91 fish species, 325 species of birds and many reptile, amphibian and small mammal species.
“Enhancing our water quality citywide is an important part of PlaNYC. To do it, we have to find ways to preserve natural areas and better manage stormwater, and the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan will help do both,” said Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability Director Rohit Aggarwala. “The implementation of Best Management Practices in Jamaica Bay, along with the educational and outreach processes outlined, will provide a model on which the citywide efforts can be based.”
“Jamaica Bay is a crucial environmental resource for New York City that must be preserved and conserved,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “The Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan not only provides a tool to achieve that goal, but it also provides the basis for testing promising sustainable storm water management techniques that may be beneficial beyond the boundaries of the Jamaica Bay Watershed. DEP is working as part of the Mayor’s Interagency BMP Taskforce, created through PlaNYC, to share these results as broadly as possible.”
The Jamaica Bay Plan, delivered to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is the result of extensive research and dialogue with City stakeholders and regular consultation with the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee, a seven-member committee comprised of three City Council Speaker appointees and four Mayoral appointees. The Jamaica Bay Plan was undertaken pursuant to Local Law 71 (LL 71), sponsored by Council Member James Gennaro and signed by Mayor Bloomberg on July 20, 2005, which requires the DEP to “assess the technical, legal, environmental and economical feasibility” of a variety of protection measures as part of the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan development process.
Volume 1, Jamaica Bay Watershed Regional Profile, a comprehensive reference document for Jamaica Bay, provides information about the diverse landscape of the Bay and its watershed, water quality of the Bay and current status of the ecological system as a whole. It also provides the information needed to identify issues of concern, setting the stage for developing strategies to address these issues in Volume 2.
Volume 2, the Watershed Protection Plan, is intended to serve as a blueprint for the future management of the Bay and its watershed. Specific objectives and pursuant strategies or actions were developed to address each issues identified.
The Jamaica Bay Plan includes six major categories that identify the significant issues to be addressed to restore the ecosystem of the Bay. The categories include water quality, restoration of the ecology, stormwater management, public education and outreach, public use, and implementation and coordination. The Jamaica Bay Plan also includes recommendations for the implementation of hard and soft infrastructure projects, innovative alternatives, pilot studies, regulatory initiatives and public outreach efforts.
Following are some of the specific recommendations included in the plan:
Implement Corrective Action Plan to Reduce Nitrogen Loading to the Tributaries: DEP will propose carbon addition at 26th Ward and Jamaica Water Pollution Control Plant as a potential strategy to reduce nitrogen loading. DEP will continue the efforts to minimize trans-shipments of centrate to Jamaica Bay. To reduce nitrogen, improve water quality and increase fish habitat, the Jamaica Bay Plan also recommends harvest of excess algae and sea lettuce, removal of nutrients and contaminants through benthic organisms, bacteria and phytoplankton.
Reduce CSO and other Discharges to Improve Pathogen and Dissolved Oxygen Levels: This recommendation calls for cleaning the sewers programmatically to ensure that the entire sewer system can be cleaned every 7-10 years. In addition, the Jamaica Bay Plan recommends the creation of an inspection program to determine cleaning and maintenance needs throughout the city and identify and resolve sewer system anomalies. It also looks at separating storm sewers from sanitary sewers and reducing wastewater discharges from recreational boats directly into Jamaica Bay.
Increase Dissolved Oxygen Levels to Improve Ecological Productivity: The Jamaica Bay Plan recommends examining the need and efficacy of in-stream aeration for other creeks in Jamaica Bay, adding oxygen to improve dissolved oxygen levels to pursue aerators at Fresh Creek, Bergen Basin and Thurston Basin, and installing permanent shellbank basin aeration, among other things.
Create Robust Scientific Monitoring: Develop an enhanced water quality and ecological monitoring program and coordinate monitoring among various entities.
Develop a Plan for Restoration Ecology: To create a healthy ecosystem, this recommendation looks at the installation of prefabricated attenuators to reduce wetland erosion loss. It also looks at pursuing acquisition and restoration efforts in other periphery areas, and completing the restoration of Penn Avenue Landfill, Fountain Avenue Landfill, Paerdegat Basin and Springfield Lake.
On-Site Best Management Practices for New and Existing Developments: This element of the Jamaica Bay Plan puts forth several ideas for moderating the surge of runoff after precipitation events, such as monitoring the effectiveness of blue roof versus green roof control methodologies; distributing 1,000 rain barrels to homeowners; promoting rooftop detention in new construction; utilizing porous pavement on DEP property; and adding landscape and bioretention components to commercial and community facility parking lots that are greater than 6,000 square feet or 18 spaces.
Off-Site Best Management Practices (streets, sidewalks, vacant land and highways): Looking at open space, the Jamaica Bay Plan recommends installing tree swales on six sites to capture runoff from roadways, implementing stormwater parks on additional publicly owned vacant parcels to capture storm water runoff, planting street trees throughout the Jamaica Bay watershed; and increasing tree stocking level in East New York.
Public Education and Outreach: As part of the community outreach, the Jamaica Bay Plan recommends targeting an education campaign for developers, residents and business owners to protect Jamaica Bay; organizing a “State of the Bay” symposium and enhancing the Jamaica Bay Educational Curriculum, a resource directory.
Public Use and Enjoyment: As part of the implementation strategy, the recommendation asks for establishing an approximately 20-mile continuous greenway loop around the Bay. It also includes establishing a greenway to connect Brooklyn/Queens Greenway system to Jamaica Bay waterfront. The Jamaica Bay Plan’s greenway improvements include landscaping, a multi-use path, a bike rack, pedestrian ramps, and traffic signals among other things.
Implementation and Coordination: The Jamaica Bay Plan calls for the creation of a Jamaica Bay Water Quality and Ecological Restoration Steering Committee and for the use of Best Management Practices that will be implemented as part of PlaNYC and further BMPs that will be identified in a plan to be released in the summer of 2008 by the Mayor’s Interagency BMP Task Force. Lastly, the Jamaica Bay Report calls for the creation of an Education Steering Committee to implement education and outreach strategies.
The Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan calls for periodic updates. The issues facing the Bay are expected to evolve and will be identified in regular Jamaica Bay Plan updates. The implementation for many of the recommended strategies will begin immediately and will be an ongoing collaborative effort with other City, State and Federal agencies, as well as other entities. The partnership will share expertise and financial responsibility to support projects.
New York City is implementing the most extensive plan to strengthen its urban environment ever undertaken by an American city. In April 2007, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled PlaNYC, a 127-point plan designed to create the first environmentally sustainable 21st century city. The long-term plan focuses on every facet of New York’s physical environment – its transportation network, housing stock, land and park system, energy and water infrastructure, and water and air quality – and sets the course for a 30% reduction in global warming emissions by 2030. PlaNYC created an Interagency BMP Task Force comprised of over 14 city agencies and coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. The Interagency BMP Task Force is studying citywide stormwater management strategies and gathering information and ideas from stakeholders in preparation for a report to be released in Summer 2008.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection manages the City’s water supply, providing more than 1.1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents throughout New York State through a complex network of nineteen reservoirs, three controlled lakes and 6,200 miles of water pipes, tunnels and aqueducts. DEP is also responsible for managing storm water throughout the City and treating wastewater at 14 in-City wastewater treatment plants. DEP carries out federal Clean Water Act rules and regulations, handles hazardous materials emergencies and toxic site remediation, oversees asbestos monitoring and removal, enforces the City's air and noise codes, bills and collects on City water and sewer accounts, and manages citywide water conservation programs.