Mayor to Wastewater Workers: Keep Up the Good Work

Monday, December 03, 2012

From left, DEP Chief Operating Officer Katheryn Garcia, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and plant chief Phillip Rocle outside the Oakwood Beach Wastewater Plant (Brigid Bergin/WNYC)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to thank city workers for their efforts during Sandy when he toured the Oakwood Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant on Staten Island on Monday.

During the height of the storm, Department of Environmental Protection employees kept the facility running, which prevented sewage from backing up into local streets and homes.

On Monday, Bloomberg was greeted by plant chief Phillip Rocle, who walked the mayor through the site explaining just how he and his team kept it running.

Unlike DEP's 14 other wasterwater sites, the Oakwood Beach plant does not have a physical relief mechanism if the system gets overwhelmed, either from storm water, seawater or sewage. 

"So to keep from backing up, we have to keep pumping," Rocle said.

That's what prevented sewage from backing up into local homes and streets. The site did have to switch to emergency power due to voltage issues and sustained damage to some of its pumps from debris in the floodwater.

Before leaving the facility, Bloomberg thanked a lunchroom full of DEP employees saying that Sandy was the first of many severe weather events that pose a threat to the city.

"Some very changing and challenging times here," said Bloomberg, who is scheduled to deliver a major policy speech Thursday morning on how the city will tackle the long-term challenges of the aftermath of Sandy and climate change. "We've got lots of parts of the infrastructure of this city that we depend on you for, so keep up the good work."

On an average day, the Oakwood plant treats 30 million gallons of wastewater. During Sandy, the plant took in more than 80 million gallons.


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Comments [2]

Glenn Rocle from Staten Island

It was heartening to see the Mayor recognize the unselfish efforts and sacrificies of these DEP workers during hurricane Sandy. Phill Rocle, and his crew, worked feverishly and tirelessly for over 30 hours to avert, what could have become, a possible biological disaster on top of the physical wreck and ruin left by the storm!

Also worth noting, is that all the while these people manned their station, they were isolated from their own homes, family and loved ones!

Job well done!!

Dec. 06 2012 02:36 PM
VMGillen from Elm Park, Staten Island

DEP on Staten Island gets kudos, I agree. Woefully understaffed, woefully underequipped (Staten Island is truly the forgotten borough) this Agency has been working hard to keep up with ever-increasing demands. Over the summer they cleaned out the storm sewers throughout the North Shore - so when the water came in, it was able to go back out. The year before (Irene) I was able to kayak around my block; not this time. Our sewage treatment plants operate over capacity when they open; development continues unabated with no increase in capacity for these plants. I am constantly amazed that developers can extract boatloads of money without putting anything into the neighborhood, a failure that really reminds me of colonial extraction...

Dec. 04 2012 06:51 AM

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