Requires southeast Queens to mitigate property damage caused by environmental issues which are caused by acts or omissions of such municipality.
TITLE OF BILL: An act relating to requiring southeast Queens to mitigate certain property damage caused by environmental issues which are caused by acts or omissions of such municipality
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
In a city with a population of one million or more, where the municipality or its departments by acts of omission or commission either creates or greatly contributes to an environmental crisis which impacts a sizable segment of its citizens, creating property damage and threatening residents' health, and where such municipality or its departments either owns or controls the infrastructure that can substantially mitigate this environmental issue and bring relief to those residents, then such municipality shall be required and directed to utilize that infrastructure to provide a clear, objective and quantifiable plan to obtain relief in a timely manner.
For one hundred years, from 1897 to 1996, Southwest Queens, NYC received its drinking water from a private company, Jamaica Water Supply Co. (JWS), That company had 69 wells from which is pumped 60 million gallons of water per day from underground. Besides providing water for this community, this pumping extracted water from the ground and kept the standing water level at manageable levels. In 1996, New York City purchased JWS and stopped pumping water from these wells. This water left underground began rising at an alarming level, In testimony before a NY City Council committee in September 2007, the Department of Environmental Preservation Commissioner Emily Lloyd stated that the ground water level in Jamaica, Queens had risen 35 feet since pumping of the wells was discontinued in 1996. This rising level was flooding homes and backing up in the existing sewers, hindering their effectiveness. She stated that resolving the ground water problem was "as imperative as continuing to install sewers in Southeast Queens". DEP officials told Southeast Queens residents in the early 2000's they would face severe flooding if this water was not pumped out of the ground, and DEP began only to quietly discontinue it because it was "too expensive".
That rising water level is now flooding large part of Southern Queens, where the standing water level is now higher than many basements or lower level offices. As a result York College (CUNY) pumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day from its lower levels; the Parsons Blvd. subway is flooded; the Jamaica MTA Bus Depot is flooded, (rain or shine); 188 Jamaica, PS37, Springfield Gardens, The Allen Senior Housing Complex, Carter Community Church, Queens Bridge Home and other locations are running electric pumps in their basements 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get rid of the water constantly invading their premises. This is in addition to hundreds of homes and businesses throughout Southeast Queens that are forced to run electric pumps to remove basement flooding, and have had their home or businesses literally ruined by the rising water levels. One resident of St. Albans literally refuses to enter her basement for the last year due to the water damage and mold spores the size of golf balls
that have grown on her walls due to constant water presence. She runs two electric pumps in her basement, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In the Summer of 2011, NYC DEP awarded a contract to begin pumping water from the JWS wells in 2018, when NYC must shut down the Delaware Water Tunnel that supplies a large share of New York City's water, and they consider this well water to be part of their plan to replace the water supplied by the Delaware system. However, they have refused to bring any of these wells on line earlier, even though they are fully aware of the flood damage throughout South Queens, and they know that pumping or extracting the ground water is the key to reducing the water level and easing the flooding plaguing the area.
Additionally, NYC sued Exxon-Mobil on the grounds that their operations in Southeast Queens had damaged the ground water in the area. They won a judgment for $104 million, which is being appealed by Exxon. Five other oil companies sued by NYC because of damage to the ground water in Southeast Queens settled with the city for an additional $15 million. The community's position is that NYC was awarded this money based on damage to the Southeast Queens water supply, and should be used to resolve the problem that this water is now creating for the residents and businesses in Southeast Queens.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4035--A 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE March 5, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. SMITH -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Cities -- recommitted to the Committee on Cities in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT relating to requiring southeast Queens to mitigate certain prop- erty damage caused by environmental issues which are caused by acts or omissions of such municipality THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. In southeast Queens, where the municipality or its depart- ments by acts of omission or commission either creates or greatly contributes to an environmental crisis which impacts a sizable segment of its citizens, creating property damage and threatening residents' health, and where such municipality or its departments either owns or controls the infrastructure that can substantially mitigate this envi- ronmental issue and bring relief to those residents, then such munici- pality shall be required and directed to utilize that infrastructure to provide a clear, objective and quantifiable plan to obtain relief in a timely manner. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08740-04-4