Specifically, the agreement-in-principle announced today includes commitments from the city to:
- Upgrade four sewage treatment plants to drastically reduce nitrogen discharges to the bay, on a schedule running through 2020
- Spend at least $15 million on marsh restoration over the next five years, which could leverage nearly $30 million in additional federal funding through the Corps of Engineers
- Resolve a long-running dispute over the city's Clean Water Act permits by agreeing to new, stricter permit terms that will lock in the treatment plant upgrades, and the resulting water quality improvements, into the future
- Improve water quality monitoring in the bay, which may include using new equipment to provide continuous, real-time information on conditions in the bay.
- Nitrogen discharges from the sewage treatment plants are the biggest cause of the severe water quality problems in Jamaica Bay. The plants discharge nearly 40,000 pounds of nitrogen into the bay daily, which cause harmful algae blooms that frequently render portions of the bay inhospitable to marine life and unusable for people. There is also mounting evidence that elevated nitrogen levels contribute to the rapid and accelerating loss of the bay's signature marshlands, which provide not only invaluable wildlife habitat but also shoreline erosion control and a protective flood barrier to the neighborhoods ringing the bay.