New York City’s Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Budget includes planned commitments of $10.4 billion for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) over five years, a 12% increase over last year’s budget. While slightly lower than its 2008 peak, when DEP was in the midst of several massive projects including two water filtration plants and extensive upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants, this budget directs significant resources to several critical initiatives.
Water Supply and Water Mains
DEP is committing nearly $4 billion for projects supporting the water supply and distribution systems. $1.7 billion of this will go to hundreds of individual water main replacement, reconstruction, and extension projects throughout the City. Another $987 million is slated for improvements in the City’s far-reaching upstate watershed, including fixing City-owned dams and reservoirs and reconstruction of roads and bridges.
Design work worth $42 million is scheduled to begin this year for upgrading critical, aging water control facilities at Hillview Reservoir, the last stop before upstate water proceeds into the City’s water tunnels. Construction, budgeted at $320 million, is anticipated to begin in FY 2018.
$45 million is budgeted for site acquisition and design of the Kensico-Eastview Connection tunnel in FY 2018, with construction projected to begin in FY 2020, at a cost of $466 million. The tunnel will provide a new link between the upstate watershed to the recently-completed ultraviolet filtration facility in Eastview, creating important system redundancy.
Finally, DEP is undertaking several major projects to protect and enhance delivery of water from key resources, known collectively as the Water for the Future program. Projects include:
- A bypass of the Delaware Watershed Aqueduct, the largest source of City water, which is leaking an estimated 35 million gallons per day. $720.5 million was to be committed in FY 2015 for construction of this project, which will allow DEP to fully shut down the Aqueduct for repairs, while still receiving water from the City's largest water sources.
- $147 million, beginning this year, will be committed to increase the capacity of the Catskill Aqueduct, which will be asked to supply more water during a brief shutdown of the Delaware Aqueduct.
- $148 million to rehabilitate the Queens Groundwater System, which DEP acquired in 1996 and subsequently closed. The Queens system will be improved to provide water during repairs to the Delaware Aqueduct, and to provide long-term system redundancy.
Water Pollution Control
DEP will spend $3.3 billion as it continues to improve its sewage treatment plants in order to meet federal mandates for water quality in New York Harbor, surrounding rivers and water bodies. Notable projects include:
- Hunts Point Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) work totaling $180 million over five years. Design will begin in FY 2016 and construction in FY 2019;
- Work at Wards Island WPCP to improve settling tanks ($103 million), and power distribution, ($57 million), with construction for both beginning in FY 2018;
- $166 million for construction of the North River WPCP cogeneration project in FY 2016;
- $114 million in FY 2016 for construction of a settling tank at 26th Ward WPCP, and $50 million in FY 2017 for construction of new centrifuges;
- Additional projects over the plan period include Coney Island WPCP ($70 million), Bowery Bay WPCP ($42 million) and Jamaica WPCP ($34 million).
The plan also includes $360 million for floodwater resiliency and post-Sandy reconstruction efforts at various WPCP and related facilities, funded primarily through FEMA.
The City continues to implement its consent agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requiring it to abate combined sewer overflows (CSO) into City waterways that occur during wet weather events, committing $886 million over five years for a variety of projects.
DEP plans to commit $245 million for on-call construction services (“job-order”) contracts for WPCP projects over the plan period. Finally, the plan includes at least $185 million for consultant engineering, architectural and other project support costs.
Sewer projects are funded at $2.5 billion for FY 15-19, and includes a new initiative worth $159 million for “Expansion for Re-zoning,” an effort to accommodate infrastructure needs under the Mayor’s housing plan.
The City will also undertake a major effort to construct a comprehensive sewer system in Southeast Queens, including projects to deliver some near term flooding relief, committing $692 million between 2015 and 2019. $1.5 billion in total is slated to be committed to this project over ten years.
Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said, “The City’s water and sewer system is an engineering marvel that requires constant upkeep and improvement to meet extensive state and federal mandates, address climate change, and withstand age. The de Blasio administration has funded DEP adequately to meet many of these goals in the coming years. The City and the entire region will benefit greatly from these investments.”