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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy hit the north-eastern United States during late October 2012, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection declared substantial repairs to wastewater services would be needed to restore the city. Trenchless International takes a look at the extent of water and wastewater damage caused by the tropical cyclone.

In New York, the record storm surge that accompanied Hurricane Sandy submerged many of the treatment plants and their electrical equipment in seawater and degraded their ability to pump and treat wastewater. Ten of the City’s
14 wastewater treatment plants and more than 40 sanitary sewer pumping stations were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The New York Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) crews worked around the clock to pump out the seawater and make repairs to the electrical equipment. After the Oakwood Beach Plant on Staten Island was cut off by Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge, the DEP’s sewage treatment workers, engineers and electricians worked through the night to protect the plant’s critical infrastructure.

In November 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will release $US22.8 million to New York City for use in repairs to wastewater treatment facilities damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Funding was released by the state from an escrow account, funded by New York City under the terms of enforcement agreements with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for past violations at the City’s wastewater treatment facilities.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said “New York City met the milestones of the agreements for its Newtown Creek facility and has committed unprecedented resources to green infrastructure investments. DEC is immediately releasing these funds to help the City rebuild its environmental infrastructure.”

Given the critical impacts on the City’s wastewater infrastructure as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and the City’s high rate of performance under the agreements, the state is acting to immediately release the escrowed funds to the City so that those funds can help expedite repair of extraordinary damage caused by the storm.

Planning for disaster

The International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITUSA) has drawn attention to Hurricane Sandy to ask the questions about how resilient cities really are, stating that underground space can be used as a solid strategic planning asset.

According to ITUSA, “To avoid disruption of service, and contamination, water and waste can all be reorganised underground – where excess flood water can also be safely channelled off and stored.

“Making our cities more resilient is an ongoing process that concerns many stakeholders, in an open dialogue around sustainable solutions that are creative and innovative. Such solutions could ultimately combine water management with traffic management, such as in Kuala Lumpur’s SMART tunnel, or road tunnels with underground energy structures, for greater impact.”

Trenchless International April will be taking an in-depth look at the trenchless repair efforts underway on the US east coast. If you are involved in the repairs and upgrades, or want to share your thoughts on asset management and planning for extreme weather conditions, email {encode=”query@trenchlessinternational.com” title=”query@trenchlessinternational.com”}

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