« John Pinamonti w/ the Atomic Grind Show: The Burrow | Main | Eminent Domain Appeal Brief Filed »

August 3, 2007

Too Big For Its Britches

The Atlantic Yards development will push South Brooklyn’s over-taxed plumbing infrastructure to the max.

By Meredith Knight

gowanusFlush.jpg The dirty not-so-little secret about Atlantic Yards is that it will tax our sewers, which combine stormwater runoff and sewage in the same system (Combined Sewer Overflow, CSO); when it rains, this mixture gets dumped into the Gowanus Canal, and frequently floods nearby streets and homes. Though Ratner is touting his water-retention basin — designed to release storm runoff slowly, after flood conditions subside — that doesn't solve the problem of the concentration of waste.

But with the Atlantic Yards development expected to produce around 1.1 million gallons of extra sewage and rain runoff, the city is now predicting that waste line repairs will only reduce CSOs by about four percent.

While new pipes laid at the Atlantic Yards site will meet modern standards, the wastewater they contain will inevitably flow south, toward Gowanus, flowing into the same antiquated, narrow pipes that cannot handle the current volume.

“We were anticipating a significant improvement, and now we’re looking at a slight improvement, said Donnelly whose home regularly floods with sewage.

Hoping to address such concerns, Atlantic Yards developers plan to install water storage tanks that hold and release storm water slowly, along with recycled water irrigation and cooling systems, waterless urinals, low-flow toilets and showers, and wide plumbing pipes designed to meet modern standards. Loren Riegelhaupt, a Vice President at Forest City Ratner, says such low-flow technology will decrease waste volume in the pipes.

Still, although water retention practices should reduce the wastewater volume flooding the canal during storms, they can’t reduce the amount of solid waste produced by residents, raising concerns that sewage overflows will become more concentrated. “The low flow plumbing and capture storm water tanks lead you to the conclusion that you’re going to have thicker sewage [that] could be more damaging,” said Mike Plumb, an intern at Columbia Law Clinic who helped prepare comments for Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group focused on water quality in New York.


Posted by lumi at August 3, 2007 10:53 AM