Bill S7863-2013

Directs the city of New York to conduct an analysis of stormwater and groundwater issues in southeast Queens

Directs the city of New York to conduct an analysis of stormwater and groundwater issues in southeast Queens.

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  • Jun 16, 2014: REFERRED TO RULES

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S7863

TITLE OF BILL: An act to direct the city of New York to conduct an analysis of stormwater and groundwater issues in southeast Queens

PURPOSE: This bill would require New York City to conduct a detailed analysis of storm water and groundwater issues in Southeast Queens that, at a minimum, evaluates: the feasibility and efficacy of the installation of reverse seepage basins; the status of storm water sewer upgrades; and the potential rehabilitation of former water supply wells, In addition, a report on the findings would be required to be submitted to the Legislature no later than June 30, 2014.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: 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 it 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. The 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 sewer and hindering their effectiveness. Ms. Lloyd 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.

Those rising water levels are now flooding large parts 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 gets flooded; the Jamaica MTA Bus Depot gets flooded (rain or shine); 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.

In the summer of 2011, NYC DEP awarded a contract to begin pumping water from the JWS wells in 2018. At that time NYC must shut down the Delaware Water Tunnel which supplies a large share of New York City's water. NYC considers this well water to be part of their plan to replace the water sypplied by the Delaware system. However, NYC has refused to bring any of these wells on line earlier, even though they are fully aware of the flood damage throughout South Queens. They also 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. NYC 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 the money should be used to resolve the problem that this water is now creating for the residents and businesses in Southeast Queens.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: de minimus.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7863 IN SENATE June 16, 2014 ___________
Introduced by Sen. SANDERS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules AN ACT to direct the city of New York to conduct an analysis of stormwa- ter and groundwater issues in southeast Queens THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The city of New York shall conduct a detailed analysis of stormwater and groundwater issues in southeast Queens including the communities of Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Hollis, Spring- field Gardens, Laurelton, Rosedale and Brookville. The analysis shall, at a minimum, include an evaluation of: the feasibility and efficacy of the installation of reverse seepage basins; the status of stormwater sewer upgrades; and the potential rehabilitation of former water supply wells. A report on the findings of such analysis shall be submitted to the legislature no later than June 30, 2014. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

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