A new $3.5 million facility in Howard Beach, recently completed, may be the solution to relieving residents of the smell of dead fish and stagnant water that has been a problem in past years.
NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials announced on Monday the completion of a new $3.5 million destratification facility—designed to improve water quality and curb odors—along the Shellbank Basin, a tributary of Jamaica Bay.
Water stratification occurs when water masses with different properties form layers that prevent the water from mixing. The new facility, which is an air compression station along the basin shore in Howard Beach, will cleanse the water using air bubbles to mix the water column, which help to oxygenize the bottom layers of the water and provide anecology that can sustain aquatic life.
Construction of the new facility began in Sept.2010, according to the DEP, and the facility will be fully operational in the late spring, when the warmer weather will make it more needed.
“This is another bit of good news for New Yorkers who love Jamaica Bay,” stated DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland in a press statement. “Living near the water is great, but not when it is so stagnant that it creates unwelcome odors. This facility addresses that issue as air will now be distributed throughout the water body, preventing the conditions that led to odors in the past and improving the overall ecology of the basin so that fish will want to remain.”
The Howard Beach facility has two compressors, one in operation and the other on standby, that will pump compressed air through the 3,800 feet of perforated tubing laid out along 2,000 feet of the basin floor.
According to the DEP, water at the basin has been restricted from mixing due to navigational alterations to the basin’s original contours which has caused the top layer of the basin’s water to get much warmer due to the sun’s heat while deeper water layers are trapped on the bottom and remain cooler; that process brings water lacking oxygen to the surface and is responsible for creating odor problems and killing aquatic life in the water.
In the late summer of 2008, residents had complained to local officials regarding an up tick in dead fish washing up on the Shellbank Basin,which had created an odor that drove people to demand that DEP take action to fix the situation.
The pumping of compressed air mixes the water and prevents temperature stratification,or the formation of separate temperature layers in the water column. This allows for oxygen to be distributed throughout the basin, limiting the development of conditions that lead to low levels of oxygen.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who has received calls from his constituents in the past regarding the dead fish and odor problems around the basin, released a statement earlier this week in support of bringing the stratification facility to Howard Beach.
“I believe the DEP facility built near the Shellbank Basin is a step in the right direction environmentally,” he stated. “I am optimistic that the efforts of the DEP will improve the condition of the water in the basin and the fish there, as well as the quality of life for my constituents, and eliminate the odors that have plagued the area for years. I am grateful for the work done by the DEP.”
By Jean-Paul Salamanca