Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection visited Forest Hills last week – just one of the many neighborhoods across Queens and Brooklyn that deals with sewer backups during strong storms – and essentially told residents there was no relief in sight from the flooding.
This is terrible news for homeowners, who are forced to deal with the mix of raw sewage and rainwater that comes back into their homes when the sewer system becomes overwhelmed with water.
DEP officials told residents that when the system was planned out in the 1960s, it was capable of handling the water. But stronger storms - and we suspect overdevelopment that has replaced open spaces, which could soak up rainwater, with concrete - have taxed the system.
According to DEP reps, planning and replacing the sewer system in the city would take decades and just isn’t feasible. So in the meantime, there is nothing that can be done.
We accept that replacing the entire sewer system isn’t feasible, but we don’t buy the answer that nothing can be done.
We believe that there are talented people working at DEP, and with a little ingenuity and hard work, some stopgap measures can be put in place to at least alleviate some of the flooding issues.
Even if that requires putting some of the onus on homeowners, DEP should work with residents to find solutions. We’re sure that if the city could promise some sort of permanent solution – obviously there will be some weather events that just can’t be foreseen – we’re sure homeowners would do their part.
A city like New York shouldn’t be brought to its knees following every spring shower or summer afternoon thunderstorm.