The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that work is underway on a $300 million project to install new, cleaner-burning co-generation engines at the North River Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility in west Harlem.
Once that work is completed in 2022, there will be a nearly 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is comparable to the air quality benefits achieved by removing 5,500 vehicles from the road or planting nearly 700,000 trees.
By replacing the 10 existing engines that rely on traditional fuel oil with engines that primarily use green energy, the project will help contribute towards the City’s 80 by 50 goal.
In addition, over 6,500 lighting fixtures at the facility have been upgraded with energy-saving
LED capability, and resiliency measures, such as floodgates and barriers, will be installed to help protect critical equipment from future storm surges and help to ensure uninterrupted service.
DEP will also continue an air monitoring program both inside and outside of the facility.
“This is another step towards achieving our city’s 80 by 50 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building a fairer city for all,” said Mayor de Blasio.
“Communities across the city, as well as the environment, will benefit from more resilient and sustainable wastewater processing facilities.”
“This $300 million investment in west Harlem will not only ensure that we continue to protect the health of the Hudson River, it increases the sustainability of our essential operations and improves the quality of the air we all share,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.
“As we continue to transition our wastewater treatment plants into resource recovery facilities, we anticipate delivering additional benefits for the environment and our neighbors and customers.”
“At a time when Washington is turning its back on climate change, the City of New York is investing in a low-carbon future,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
“The upgrades announced today will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50 percent and builds upon the City’s other successful investments in energy efficiency.”
New Yorkers produce approximately 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater every day of the year. The wastewater travels through the City’s 7,500 mile sewer system to one of 14 wastewater resource recovery facilities located across the five boroughs, where energy is required to properly treat the wastewater.
At the North River Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF), the existing large engines burn a combination of traditional fuel oil, natural gas and recovered green energy, or igester gas, that is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process. The engines power the primary energy consumers at the facility, the main sewage pumps and process air blowers.
Those 10 engines are being replaced with five new dual-fuel cogeneration engines that primarily use digester gas, supplemented by natural gas, thus eliminating the use of traditional fuel oil at the facility.
The new cogeneration system will maximize the use of digester gas to produce up to 12 megawatts of electricity and will have the ability to take the facility off the electrical grid to ease pressure during times of high demand.
The new system is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, which is comparable to taking more than 5,500 cars off the road or planting nearly 700,000 trees.
The City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) contributed funding towards the new cogeneration system.
The North River WRRF experienced significant flooding during Hurricane Sandy and this project will include resiliency upgrades to harden the plant against a changing climate and future storms.
This work is a part of the NYC Wastewater Resiliency Plan that calls for more than $300 million in capital protective measures for the City’ s wastewater pumping stations and WRRF to harden them against future storms, reduce damage and enable rapid recovery back to full service in the event of a flooding event.
The North River WRRF is built on a 28-acre reinforced concrete platform over the Hudson River and went into operation in 1986. It rests on 2,300 caissons pinned into bedrock up to 230 feet beneath the river.
The roof of the building is the home of Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, a popular recreational facility with three swimming pools, an amphitheater, an athletic center, a skating rink, a restaurant, and sports fields.
The plant provides wastewater treatment for the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in, or visit, the west side of Manhattan, from Bank Street in Greenwich Village to Inwood Hill at the island’s northern tip.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately one billion gallons of high quality drinking water each day to more than nine million residents, including 8.5 million in New York City.
The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants.
DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed.
DEP has a capital program, with a planned $19.4 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year.