Newark Bay Treatment Plan
Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s Newark Bay Treatment Plant is the fifth-largest sewage treatment facility in the nation. Situated on a low-lying, 140-acre site at the edge of Newark Bay, the PVSC plant treats the wastewater, municipal sewage sludge and drinking water sludge from 3.43 million residents of New Jersey and New York. This represents approximately 25 percent of New Jersey and 15 percent of New York City wastewater treatment.
Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the coast of New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, pushing a five-foot wall of water across the PVSC’s Newark Bay Treatment Plant. The saltwater flooded a network of tunnels and equipment, knocking out the main power feeder lines and the backup emergency generators. Raw sewage backed up in the lines, and over several days 840 million gallons of raw sewage flowed untreated into the Passaic River.
The Newark Bay facility sustained over $200 million in damages to vehicles, buildings, inventory, equipment and contents on the ground level, as well as catastrophic damages on lower levels. The resulting damages caused an extended loss of treatment capability with severe economic impacts on the region. The facility did not achieve full permit compliance until July 2013.
After Hurricane Sandy, FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding of more than $446 million was made available to cover the cost of elevating high voltage cabling on poles that extend 27 feet into the air. Plant security and control systems are also being elevated. ‘Muscle walls’ (flood barriers) have been installed around critical buildings. Emergency gates have been built at the plant’s head end and numerous other measures are being taken to protect the plant until a permanent flood wall is constructed.
Mitigation funds will pay for construction of a flood wall capable of withstanding a 500-year flood event to be built around the entire perimeter of the facility. These major mitigation initiatives are intended to prevent a recurrence in any future events. The time frame for design and construction of the flood wall is estimated to be 5 to 7 years.
This complex and challenging project required a team effort by commission officials and a number of state and federal agencies to develop an environmentally sound and economically prudent repair and mitigation plan. PVSC Mitigation project will be the largest mitigation project in the state of New Jersey.