While Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured a pollution control plant in the Oakwood Beach section of Staten Island today, he said that the city Department of Environmental Protection did a good job of protecting the quality of drinking water during and after Hurricane Sandy.
The Oakwood Beach facility usually deals with 30 million gallons of water each day, but it ballooned to 85 million gallons during the storm.
While there were some problems with the city's water system, they paled in comparison to the amount of sewage pumped into waterways in parts of Nassau County and New Jersey.
"We did very well. We had to shut down a couple but they came right back up, because we prepared for exactly that," Bloomberg said. "Keep in mind that the taxpayers of New York City have been putting money into improving all the DEP facilities, whether it's the reservoirs, or the ways you get water from the reservoirs upstate or how we treat our sewage. Other places haven't been doing that and they've paid the price."
"For us, it's just a matter of preparing, trying to think of every conceivable thing the night of the storm, dealing with every contingency that came up," said Phillip Rocle, a DEP official. "Like I said, I have guys who saw what needed to be done and they jumped right in and took care of things."
The Rockaways in Queens was one area where the DEP encountered problems during Sandy. The Rockaway Wastewater Pollution Control Plant became overwhelmed by storm surge, but DEP officials believe the plant was spared great damage because it was shut down ahead of time.
Across the city, 40 of 96 pumping stations suffered damage. One station in Manhattan, which serves much of the borough, was knocked out when Consolidated Edison suffered a major power outage.
Officials say they are still learning lessons in decreasing storm damage. Wastewater treatment workers said they will move electrical equipment to higher ground and learn to be even more prepared.