EPA giving N.J. and N.Y. millions to prevent floods from spilling sewage

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is giving New Jersey millions of dollars to help keep its sewage treatment facilities in tact during future storms.

 

Flooding caused by Sandy wreaked havoc on Garden State facilities, sending billions of gallons of sewage into Northeast waterways.

A report released this week by Climate Central, an independent organization that explores climate change, found that 11 billion gallons of sewage seeped into rivers, bays, canals and city streets in the Northeast.

More than 90 percent of that volume — more than 10 billion gallons — can be traced back to New Jersey and New York, according to the report.

On the heels of those findings, the EPA announced Wednesday that it is giving New Jersey a $229 million federal grant for projects that help avoid such a catastrophe from happening again.

Officials also announced that New York will receive a $340 million grant for similar work.

“We’re going to be spending millions in New York and New Jersey to avoid having to spend billions during the next storm,” said Judy Enck, regional administrator for EPA Region 2, which covers New York and New Jersey.

Both facilities and municipalities will be eligible to apply for funding.

Some project proposals will likely focus on flood protection within a facility. Examples include installing back-up power systems, submersible pumps and waterproofing electrical equipment.

Others will involve green infrastructure and natural barriers that can help halt the flow of stormwater, including work with wetlands, retention basins and sand dunes.

The two states will review all project submissions and make recommendations to the EPA.

Funding will be awarded following public-comment periods in each state.

“We believe this funding will make it possible to keep clean, drinking water flowing and raw sewage contained during major storms,” said Enck.

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