For more than two decades, the people of southeast Queens have endured flooding in their homes during heavy rainfall and for years, frustrated residents have openly spoken out against the Dept. of Environmental Protection, demanding the City agency reopen the wells it operates.
Southeast Queens finds itself in a unique, yet unfavorable situation. The answer to their suffering seems simple enough. Between August and November of last year, the DEP, in partnership with the Dept. of Conservation, reopened one system of its well and within that three-month period, the water table dropped eight to 10 feet – the people began to see relief.
But this relief was short lived and the DEP has since abandoned groundwater as part of its mission. Just less than five years ago, on Sept. 24, 2007, Emily Lloyd, the DEP’s former commissioner, made a statement where she acknowledged that the rising groundwater in South Jamaica was becoming a huge problem and said that reduction in groundwater “had to be as high a priority to the DEP as was installation of sewers.”
Sometime between 2007 and 2013, the DEP must have noticed that taking responsibility for groundwater was rather pricey and has since turned a blind eye to the people it serves.
Time and time again, residents have been told that in 2018, the wells will reopen but with the recent news that this may not even be the case, it is more important than ever the City lend a hand and work with our elected officials. The years of miscommunication only harm the families of southeast Queens.
If the DEP is the only agency with the power and means to help these people, they must be willing to compromise and if the DEP refuses to encounter the costs of operating the well, there needs to be pressure from our government, some form of legislation, demanding a solution.