Dyker Heights officials, residents call on city to fix outdated sewer
Rainfall causes backflow into basements, homes, they say
DYKER HEIGHTS — State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Councilmember Justin Brannan, Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, and former U.S. Rep. Max Rose joined residents of 10th Avenue in Dyker Heights on Tuesday, urging the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to finally finish sewer repairs begun in FY1999.
The officials and community members called on the DEP to prioritize replacing what they called the overwhelmed and outdated sewer infrastructure south of 77th Street. Storms accelerated by climate change have increased in frequency and severity in the past decade, and are likely to continue to do so, furthering the need for the DEP to address these long-standing infrastructure issues quickly, they said.
The DEP began to modernize the century-old sewer system along 10th Avenue more than 20 years ago, but stopped short of replacing pipes below 77th Street. More than 2 decades later, these crucial pipe replacements have yet to be realized. As a result, even light rainfall has caused severe sewer backflow into residents’ basements and homes, as well as flooding up to 4 feet.
“A forecast of rain shouldn’t bring panic to Brooklynites – but for community members on 10th Avenue, that has been the case for over 20 years,” said Gounardes. “It’s unacceptable. 10th Avenue residents have been waiting for DEP to replace the hundred-year-old sewer system in Dyker Heights for over two decades now, and enough is enough.”
“What we’re saying is simple: my hardworking neighbors in Dyker Heights deserve to have basements that don’t flood every other time it rains,” said Brannan. “Twenty years ago, the city stopped their sewer upgrades right before reaching this area. The upgraded sewer line meets the `old; sewer line right around 77th Street and it seems anyone past that point is screwed.
“People around here pay more in property taxes than homeowners in neighborhoods that received sewer upgrades decades ago,” he added.
“It’s not fair. How does it not break your heart that my neighbor, an 80-year-old woman, has to go down to her own basement to bail out waist-high water?” said Brad Hennessy, a resident of 10th Avenue who lives off 77th Street. “And each of us are dealing with our own basements, our own flooding, and neighbors can’t even help each other because we’re all in it. I follow the rules. I stop at stop signs. I ask for one thing. One thing we pay for anyway: for sewers to function.”
U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island), who took part in a separate rally to protest the situation, said, “Now, with millions of infrastructure dollars available at the federal level, there is no reason why the city cannot complete these critical sewer upgrades to protect our Southern Brooklyn community from further backflow and flooding issues.”
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