Bronx Meeting in Scala Room Discusses CSOs

On Jan. 31., community leaders and Bronx neighbors met at the Scala Room in Leo Hall to discuss how to better manage the environmental problems that the greater Bronx community struggles with.

The main issue was CSOs, a combined sewer overflow. “[A CSO] is the discharge from a combined sewer system that is caused by snowmelt or storm water runoff,” according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

CSO’s can affect water quality in the receiving river and can decrease the usability of the waterbody.  For Manhattan College students and the community in general, “a healthy waterbody is obviously much safer and much more likely to be used for recreational activities (rowing, boating, etc.),” said Dr. Jessica Wilson, assistant professor of the civil and environmental engineering program at Manhattan College.

The CSO directly impacts the Riverdale community in two ways, according to Karen Argenti, recording secretary for the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality.

The most obvious is “the damage caused by rainfall by flooding and icing on local streets to Broadway; and second is the impact caused by sewage discharged into the river causing air pollution.”

Tomas Lopez, an environmental science major at Manhattan College, attended the meeting.

A proposed solution to the CSO issue involves the daylighting of Tibbetts Brook, “this would make a greenway that goes from Van Cortlandt down along the coast of the Harlem river.”

He continued.

“This would forever change the geography of Riverdale and the life of MC students. Imagine having Central park right across the street,” Lopez added.

Dr. Wilson encourages other students to get involved.

“By attending any NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) public meetings regarding the Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs),” She said. “Attending community board meetings or meetings from related non-profits…[Such as] Friends of Van Cortlandt Park or the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality.”

For others like Argenti, student participation is essential.

“We would hope they would speed up the process as the Consent Decree was signed in 2005 and revised in 2012.  How long does it take to prepare a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP),” Argenti said.

Agrenti noted that the Bronx’s environment depends to the younger generation,.

“Manhattan College students are poised to be the planner of the future for our planet. We hope the students would help advocate for more Green Infrastructure in the local watershed we call Tibbetts Brook Watershed,” Argenti said.

As an advocate for more green open spaces, Lopez agrees.

“It’s important that we don’t let the government agencies get complacent and try to fix the problem through grey infrastructure, but to look forward and solve the problem through green infrastructure and daylighting the Tibbets Brook,” Lopez said.

The next meeting will be on April 11. in the Leo Engineering Auditorium, all are invited. At this meeting, the NYCDEP will present their plan to reduce CSO’s in the Hudson and Harlem Rivers and will open the floor to comments from the community. All community comments are recorded and addressed as they develop their LTCP.