Fortifying for the future

Hardening New York City’s wastewater infrastructure

As part of its commitment to planning for climate change and the impacts of extreme weather, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) established the NYC Wastewater Resiliency Program (the Program) to harden wastewater treatment facilities throughout the city. As a part of a multi-step effort to harden the city’s wastewater facilities, we were awarded a program and construction management contract in 2016 to assist NYCDEP with implementation of $350+ million in upgrades for 14 wastewater resource recovery facilities and more than 50 pumping stations located throughout the five boroughs.

Stopping the surge

NYCDEP treats approximately 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater each day, with treatment and collection facilities strategically located in low-lying areas to facilitate regular operations, sludge handling and the discharge of treated waters. This very placement makes these assets especially susceptible during storm surge and flooding events, which are expected to become more regular and intense in the coming decades.

To protect New York City’s critical wastewater infrastructure assets, more than 1,500 distinct resiliency scope items were identified for implementation by the WRP — all of which are a combination of flood protection and adaption strategies.

Funding adaptation

The Program utilized funding from multiple sources, including New York City capital and expense funding, the New York State Storm Mitigation Loan Program (SMLP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The specific work being implemented under this Program includes sealing buildings and control rooms, constructing watertight barriers, flood-proofing equipment and electrical conduit, repairing and replacing electrical conduit, and elevating equipment.

Watertight infrastructure

As extreme weather and the effects of sea level rise become more prevalent, fortifying New York City’s wastewater infrastructure is more important than ever. Addressing vulnerabilities within the system — especially impacts from flooding — ensures infrastructure resiliency and the ongoing protection of the city’s surrounding waterways and everyone’s public health.