Category Archives: News

2016 Year in Review

nca_groupphotoBioremediation Workshop #3                                                                                    photo: Mitch Waxman

There is no quick or simple solution for transforming an area as historically polluted and heavily burdened as Newtown Creek into a safe and vibrant resource for the ecology, community and economy. Our path towards revitalization is a marathon, not a sprint. Even the largest steps forward are not singular events but a culmination of tireless planning, organizing and effort. In the 14 years since Newtown Creek Alliance was formed we have achieved some major milestones: the Superfund designation, upgrade of the Newtown Creek Treatment Plant, creation of public access at the Nature Walk and Manhattan Avenue street end and settlement of the ExxonMobil lawsuit to ensure thorough remediation of the 2nd largest oil spill in US history. But more than just the milestones are the hundreds of smaller steps that are often only recognized in hindsight as making the milestones possible. With 2016 coming to an end, we look back to reflect on NCA’s work this year and appreciate how our efforts both big and small are creating a cleaner and more vibrant Newtown Creek for years to come. Here are some of the highlights:

P:1512-No Name Inlet�5-CAD Drawings�1-baseL-Base graphic plaNorth Henry Street Study
In February we completed our project booklet outlining a vision for a restored shoreline and community resource on this degraded city owned site. Since launching the booklet, we have continued to push forward in making the vision a reality working with city and state agencies as well as local partners Allocco recycling and LaGuardia Community College.

dsc00322Plank Road
For the third straight summer we continued restoration work at the Plank Road site in Maspeth. This year’s work included path making, debris removal and the creation of a native pollinator garden. The location continues to grow in popularity for local workers and residents as a peaceful overlook of the Creek and Manhattan skyline. Have you been yet?

dsc00061Bioremediation Workshops
With support from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund we held a series of day long workshops with renowned experts ron various bioremediation topics including soil health and urban toxins, composting and microbes and mycoremediation and water filtration. The workshops were a great success and we will soon be releasing printed materials to engage a wider audience with these important topics.

dsc00119Water Quality Program
Working with our partners at LaGuardia Community College and North Brooklyn Boat Club we completed an extensive 6 month water quality sampling program. We collected over 2,000 points of data and will be releasing a summary booklet in the next few months to engage local communities with water quality issues.

bcnhPatrol: Eyes on the Creek
In addition to water quality sampling, 2016 was a very busy year for NCA in our patrol work. We identified over 24 different sources of pollution directly impacting Newtown Creek and worked with responsible parties, city, state and federal authorities to further investigate and address these problems. Additionally, we continued our wildlife monitoring efforts including our ribbed mussel census and wild bird survey. 
Under leadership of our historian Mitch Waxman, NCA led over 35 separate walking tours, boat tours and outreach events – revealing the Creek, all its history and ongoing issues to over 1,100 people. We are very proud to be engaging more and more people directly with Newtown Creek and look forward to more tours in 2017.

img_5498Kingsland Wildflower Roof
This summer marked the opening of the Kingsland Wildflower roof in Greenpoint. NCA is a proud community partner on the project working with NYC Audubon, Alive Structures and Broadway Stages. Over the next 3 years we will run a number of tours and educational events, engaging the community with this wonderful open space and green infrastructure resource.

It has been a very busy and productive year and there is still tremendous work to be done for NCA in covering administrative needs, dedicating time to working on processes like Superfund cleanup and the Long Term Control Plan as well as expanding operations to increase education, community engagement and on-the-ground projects. While the majority of our funding comes from project specific grants, we also look for individual contributions to help us achieve these outstanding needs. If you believe in NCA’s work and want to support our efforts to transform our local waterway from a toxic burden to an ecological and community resource then please consider making an end of year donation.

Tax-deductible donations can be made online here or by mailing a check to:
Newtown Creek Alliance
45-18 Skillman Avenue
Sunnyside, NY 11104

We are grateful for everyone’s support and contributions towards NCA’s mission. We look forward to continuing this marathon that is Newtown Creek revitalization and working more with allies like yourself along the way.

Bill, Christine, Dewey, Dorothy, Laura, Michael, Sean, Steve and Tom
NCA Board of Directors



Good news for water quality and CSO education: NYCDEP has just begun a pilot program to help inform people when sewers are overflowing and the importance of limiting water use during rain events. The best part is that the pilot is running in the Newtown Creek watershed! If you are a resident living in the pilot area of East Williamsburg, near Cooper park, please check out the program and sign up for alerts. Get your neighbors to sign up as well!

If you live in the pilot area, DEP will send you a text message alert when there’s a heavy storm and another one when it’s all clear. You can opt out at any time.

NCA has provided much feedback on this pilot to date, based on our experience with our ‪Weather in the Watershed project we began a few years ago. It is very encouraging to see NYC invest in education about CSOs and promote alternative strategies to help fix the problem. It is a long road ahead towards drastic reduction of sewage discharging into our waters, but this is a strong step in the right direction.

Join the Wait… Pilot Program by registering here online.
If you live outside the pilot area, but are interested in participating in the future, either register online or email DEP at to be added to DEP’s Wait… list. For full information, visit

Newtown Creek SAMPLES: Water Quality Testing Program for 2016

NCA is excited to launch Newtown Creek SAMPLES, an intensive water quality monitoring program funded by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund and the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The program will be run by NCA in conjunction with the Environmental Science department at LaGuardia Community College.

Throughout the summer of 2016 we will collect regular data on a number of water quality parameters including enterococus (a sewage indicating bacteria), dissolved oxygen, salinity as well as nitrogen and phosphate levels from a number of various locations within Newtown Creek. To better understand a broad picture of local water quality we will analyze the data collected in conjunction with information pertaining to tides, rainfall, geographic location and additional factors.


Proposed Sampling Locations.

We intend to use this analyzed information in efforts of engaging the local community to become better informed stewards of how geographic and environmental conditions, as well as human action and city infrastructure impact local water quality. Stay posted as the project gets underway in the Spring of 2016.

Dr. Porter-Morgan and Willis Elkins on CUNY-TV.

Greenpoint Residents: Go Vote for Environmental Projects

The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund will be hosting two days of community preferencing for the remaining large and legacy grants bringing environmental improvements to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. NCA is proud to be an active partner on three of the projects, listed below. If you are a resident within the 11222 zip code please go out and show your support for these amazing projects. Voting info at the bottom, full info about the process is available on the GCEF website.

AirCasting Greenpoint: Citizen Science for Clean Air
Project Lead: HabitatMap, Inc.
Project Partners: Newtown Creek Alliance, Sonoma Technology, Inc., New York University School of Medicine, and New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Project Location: Greenpoint
GCEF Grant Request: $235,388
Matching Contribution: $209,208
Major Activities: • Survey Greenpoint residents regarding their air pollution concerns. • Train participants in air quality sampling, health tracking, and data analysis. • Conduct a mapping analysis to examine potential relationships between air and health. • Perform a policy analysis to identify initiatives for improving air quality in Greenpoint. • Working with community-based organizations to review potential clean air initiatives. • Organizing a workshop during which Greenpoint air quality monitors can transfer their knowledge and findings to others.


Greenpoint Healthy Homes
Project Lead: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Project Partners: Newtown Creek Alliance, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Healthy Homes Program, St. Nick’s Alliance, Office of NYC Council Member Stephen Levin, The City University of New York- LaGuardia Community College, the Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at Mount Sinai, the Mount Sinai Community Outreach and Engagement Core, Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures, and a representative from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
GCEF Grant Request: $599,016
Matching Contribution: $256,629
Major Activities: • Deliver training programs for multilingual (Spanish, Polish, and English) community health workers to conduct baseline home environmental assessments supported by environmental pediatricians, industrial hygienists, and social workers. • Conduct baseline home environmental assessments that address indoor air quality (e.g., ventilation, water damage, presence of lead and mold). • Provide a source of professional expertise for medical professionals, public health agencies and community organizations for family referrals to environmental pediatricians, industrial hygienists, community health workers, and social workers. • Provide community-wide Healthy Homes outreach and education including distribution of Healthy Homes Toolkits, wallet cards, pamphlets, flyers, and reports. • Create a Greenpoint Healthy Homes Community Advisory Board which will include Greenpoint-based community organizations to support outreach Greenpoint-wide and to identify families in need of services. • Track project related education received by the community and evaluate impact.


Newtown Creek Wildflower Roof and Community Space
Project Lead: NYC Audubon Society, Inc.
Project Partners: Newtown Creek Alliance, Alive Structures, Trout in the Classroom, and the Fortune Society
Project Location: 520 Kingsland Avenue, Greenpoint
GCEF Grant Request: $971,782
Matching Contribution: $2,571,840
Major Activities: • Design and install a 21,711 intensive bird-friendly, stormwater management green roof. • Plant the roof with biologically diverse native plant species. • Conduct multi-parameter monitoring to assess green roof biodiversity characteristics and share results with the community. • Provide educational programming for elementary and middle school educators who will participate in a Trout in the Classroom conference and learn about the site as an outdoor classroom. • Conduct educational programming including tours, lectures, workshops (e.g., Weather in the Watershed), open houses, and offer public access and eco-festival community days. • Develop and implement a sustainable maintenance plan that will include creating a stewardship and volunteer network for long-term roof maintenance. • Conduct local roof installation and maintenance green-collar job training.



Voting Info:
Thursday, November 19th
12 NOON – 2:30PM
Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble Street

Thursday, November 19th
6:00PM – 8:30PM
Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble Street

Saturday, November 21st
10:00AM – 3:00PM
Polish National Home “Warsaw”, 261 Driggs Avenue