2008-10-15 / Political Page

Possible Solution To Flooding Comes Out Of Civic Meeting

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., former Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. listening to DEP Borough Coordinator Chris Villari at an Astoria Civic meeting on flooding in Astoria. Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., former Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. listening to DEP Borough Coordinator Chris Villari at an Astoria Civic meeting on flooding in Astoria. Inundated with complaints of homes in Astoria being flooded after heavy rains, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported that it is adding a new pump that will process heavier water intake more quickly at the Bowery Bay sewage treatment plant to alleviate the problem.

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., commenting after the remedial plan was announced at an Astoria Civic Association meeting last Tuesday evening, said the Bowery Bay plant, located along 20th Avenue and responsible for the major portion of waste water in the district, currently has a capacity of 3 million gallons of water a day, but can handle considerably more with the new pump.

Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., who presided at the meeting, recalled that similar flooding problems in the past had been alleviated by adding new sewer drains along Ditmars Boulevard.

Vallone Jr. said he had proposed to the DEP in a letter that projects similar to those described by Vallone Sr. should be conducted in the future to mitigate the issue of flooding following increasingly strong rainstorms.

The councilmember and DEP officials also encouraged residents to call his office or 311, the city help line, if they experience flooding problems. The DEP representatives at the meeting said they would also clean storm drains clogged with debris to deal with flooding problems, but they also asked residents to sweep away leaves or take a broom to other small blockages. Vallone Jr. (D- Astoria) said he would continue to work with the DEP and the Bloomberg mayoral administration to improve the drainage system in his council district to deal with the flooding problem.

Vallone Jr. said he had received many complaints of home flooding from local homeowners, and many people in the community believe that the growing physical development of Astoria has contributed to the flooding problem.

Christopher Villari, the DEP Queens borough coordinator said at the meeting that many sewer systems in Queens and around the city were built a century ago, long before the population of neighborhoods in the city as a whole became so large.

Contributing to the flooding problem in Astoria is the community's combined sewer system, in which runoff from the street, including rainwater, and water from buildings feeds into a single system. Villari said avoiding flooding in the area had become a challenge as one- and two-family homes in the area have been replaced by multiple-unit dwellings, which are a source of more water feeding into the drainage system.

"There is a formula that every developer has to submit for their projects, showing that their water can be absorbed by the system," Villari said. "We try to make sure that the system can handle what they're putting in."

"Astoria is growing, but we need to do so responsibly, making sure that we can handle the load we are putting on the infrastructure," Vallone said. "We should have a better plan to deal with rain than building an ark.

"Flooding in Astoria has damaged homes and could create dangerous conditions on our streets. We must do something to stop this problem before it grows worse."

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