Council Examines Sewage Spill Impact on Waterfront Businesses

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The sewage spill that for a time rendered the city's rivers unsafe for recreation this summer has prompted the City Council's Waterfront Committee to look for ways to improve the city's notifications to businesses directly affected.

They are holding a hearing Monday afternoon to access the impact of sewage spills on waterfront businesses.

Millions of gallons of raw sewage was discharged into the Hudson River following a fire that crippled the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant in July, forcing the city to close beaches and issue advisories warning that some of the city's waterways were unfit for recreational activities.

"We're trying to figure out if it's possible and if it would help if [the Department of Environmental Protection] and [the Department of Health] would reach out directly to these waterfront businesses, because essentially they're the ones affected by it," said Steve Zeltser, legislative director and policy analyst for Councilman Mike Nelson, who chairs the Waterfront Committee.

Zeltser said the city's messaging system, Notify NYC, got the word out to the general public, but for waterfront businesses, such as kayaking companies, more detailed updates are necessary.

"If we knew from the onset that this was going to be a two- or three-day situation where the water is off limits, then we need to let these people know, 'okay, for two or three days you'll not be able to have any clients, so you need to figure out how to adjust,'" Zeltser said.

The hearing is set for 1 p.m. at 250 Broadway.