Today’s news:

City completes sewer project in SE Queens

The city Department of Environmental Protection has linked the residents of Meadowmere and Warnerville to the city’s sewer system for the first time, but several of the southeast Queens homeowners say the project has wrecked their streets.

The agency announced last week that it had completed the installation of a new sewer and pump system in the neighborhoods, which lie near the eastern section of Jamaica Bay and are surrounded by the western edge of Nassau County.

The $37.5 million project will divert sewer water that ended up in Bay and transfer it to a DEP wastewater treatment plant near the ecosystem.

“Having new sewers and a new pumping station provide a critical service to the Meadowmere and Warnerville communities, which have gone too long without it,” DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway said in a statement.

In the Meadowmere and Warnerville sections, some homes either used septic tanks or discharged their sewage into the bay, according to the DEP. Starting in the summer, officials from the agency went door to door to talk to homeowners, advising them that they needed a licensed plumber to connect their homes to the new sewer system and helped them with the process.

Although some residents said they were glad that their properties were finally connected to a larger sewer system, they said the project cost them anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000. The project also caused damage to roads, telephone poles and driveways, according to Barney Sabella, a resident who has been living in Medowmere for 66 years.

“They did a lot of damage,” he said. “We went through literally hell as they were putting it in.”

Construction also damaged streets and tidal water as well as recent bouts of bad weather create icy dips, according to residents.

“The water comes in, the tide comes in, then it freezes,” Sabella said.

Despite the complaints, the DEP has been touting the sewer upgrades and its ecological value for the area.

The new sewer system will also be less taxing on Jamaica Bay, which is in a state of environmental crisis. Its saltwater marshland has diminished over the last 70 years and experts say if nothing is done, the entire ecosystem will be extinct by 2012.

DEP officials say the loss has been caused by an excess of nitrogen in the water, which destroys the roots of the marshes.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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