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City Hopes To Control Stench Of Sewage Plant Below Riverbank State Park

Upgrades Will Ensure That Wastewater Odor Is Captured, Eliminated
Riverbank State Park (credit: Alex Silverman / WCBS 880)

Riverbank State Park (credit: Alex Silverman / WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A $106 million project to control the stench of sewage at a wastewater treatment plant beneath Riverbank State Park has been completed.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection made the announcement Wednesday, detailing the project at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on the Hudson River between 137th and 145th streets.

The plant treats up to 340 million gallons of wastewater a day, and sits just a few hundred feet from the homes of tens of thousands of West Harlem residents, the department said.

Riverbank State Park, the popular 28-acre site with an assortment of sporting and recreation opportunities for adults and children alike, sits directly on top of the sewage treatment plant.

But the odor from the plant has caused frustration. That will now change, the department said.

The upgrades to the plant control system will ensure that the wastewater odor will be captured and treated before any gases are released. The plant air monitoring system – which has stations in the plant, in Riverbank State Park, and in the West Harlem neighborhood – has been upgraded with advanced technology to better monitor excess odor.

The electrical substation and other critical systems for the plant also have been upgraded, the city said.

“Collecting and treating wastewater is essential to public health and the cleanliness of our local waterways,” DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland said in a news release. “This investment will ensure that the North River Plant is equipped with the most effective technology to perform this vital environmental function while remaining a good neighbor to the tens of thousands of residents in West Harlem and the 3 million annual visitors to Riverbank State Park.”

Irv Smalls, executive director of FC Harlem Soccer, said the upgrades will make Riverbank State Park a more pleasant environment for all.

“The kids and parents of FC Harlem enjoy playing soccer on a beautiful field near the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant,” Smalls said in the release. “The installation of the new odor monitoring equipment will not only make using the field more enjoyable but it shows DEP’s continued commitment to assist in making Riverbank State and Riverside Park a destination for recreation for the West Harlem community.”

The waste treatment plant sits on caissons that are pinned into the bedrock beneath the Hudson River. The plant was completed in phases between 1986 and 1991, while Riverbank State Park opened in 1993.

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