The Bronx River needs your help. Your feedback is wanted at a meeting with the City this Thursday night about how to make the Bronx River cleaner and healthier.

The City says it is investing $26 million in order to reduce the volume of untreated sewage and stormwater released into the river from over 1 billion gallons per year to 592 million gallons annually.

“River of High Bluffs”

Have you had a chance to visit the Bronx River? The Bronx River Alliance provides the following interesting description of the river and its history…

To walk along the Bronx River today is to enter a world slightly apart from the city, where the cry of the redwing blackbird is louder than the hum of cars not twenty feet away.

One of the little-known marvels of the New York City landscape, the 23-mile Bronx River winds down through southern Westchester and the Bronx to define a peaceful corridor of greenery for fishing, strolling, biking, boating and nature study amid the noise and bustle of urban life. It is the only major watercourse within the city limits that is not entirely tidal.

Credit: Bronx River Alliance

Called Aquehung or “River of High Bluffs” by the Mohegan Indians who first lived and fished along it, the river attracted European traders in the early 1600s for the sleek, fat beaver that proliferated there….The [river’s] water was considered so “pure and wholesome” that during the 1820s and 1830s the New York City Board of Aldermen debated ways to tap into it to supply the growing city with drinking water…

Raw Sewage Releases Threaten the City’s Waterways

While much progress has been made in restoring New York City’s rivers, creeks and bays, they are still threatened by various types of pollution. One ongoing source of contamination is the City’s release of untreated sewage and stormwater into waterways like the Bronx River.

Approximately 70 percent of New York’s sewers are combined. This means that household and industrial wastewater, rainwater, and street runoff -1.3 billion gallons daily- are all collected in the same sewers and conveyed together to the City’s 14 treatment plants.

During heavy rains or snow, combined sewers can fill to capacity and are then unable to carry household and storm sewage to treatment plants. The mix of excess storm water and untreated sewage must be released directly into the city’s waterways.

There are over 400 combined sewer overflow release points throughout the five boroughs. Four of them are in the Bronx River.

In total, almost 30 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater are discharged annually into New York City’s waterways. The releases cause environmental damage, and put boaters, swimmers, fishing enthusiasts and other New Yorkers into potential contact with pathogenic bacteria and other toxic substances.

A Plan for the Bronx River

in the next three years, the City must produce plans for ten separate water bodies or “sewer sheds” – areas of the city where raw sewage is released into waterways.

The State of New York must sign off on each plan, as it is responsible for enforcing federal Clean Water regulations. The plan for the Bronx River is supposed to be completed and submitted to the State by June, 2015.

Some advocates say the City is not taking the long term CSO reduction plans for each sewer shed seriously enough. They maintain that the plans submitted thus far -for Alley Creek, the Hutchinson River, Westchester Creek and Flushing Creek- do not include significant pollution reduction targets.

Add Your Voice

Learn more about what is being done to address CSO releases and give your feedback on how to make the Bronx River cleaner and healthier.

Residents will be meeting this Thursday, February 12th with the City’s Department of Environmental Protection to discuss DEP’s long term CSO control plan for the Bronx River.

The meeting will take place at Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education,

928 Simpson Street, 6th Floor, the Bronx, from 6pm to 8pm.

To RSVP please email or call 718-595-4148.

Read more about DEP’s Combined Sewer Overflow program for the city’s waterways.