OP-ED: Our Solution Won’t Hurt Other Communities

BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN ALICIA HYNDMAN

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In 1996, the Jamaica Water Supply Company—under the direction of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection—shut off underground water pumps, removing 30 million gallons of water per day from the water table.

In the two decades since, the water table in Southeast Queens has risen exponentially, swallowing up homes, senior centers, schools and transportation hubs in the community. In an effort to help save billions of dollars and ease the concerns for hard working home owners, my office requested a feasibility study to help the residents affected by groundwater intrusion and severe flooding.

For the first time, there’s a viable solution to help transform the lives and economic fortunes of an often marginalized and forgotten middle class community. However, fear mongers and political opportunists with no grasp of environmental impact are sounding false alarms to frighten their residents. Armed with a hypothetical theory without merit, they are asking for permanent measures that will prevent any relief for homeowners and community institutions struggling to deal with the ever growing groundwater intrusion crisis.

Our community should not be held hostage by the fears and imaginations of people unaffected by the hardships faced by seniors living on fixed incomes and paying thousands of dollars to purchase pumps that must run constantly or school basements flooded, leaving children susceptible to lifetime respiratory illnesses.

I want to thank my colleague in the Assembly and Chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, for explaining what fears a small group of individuals have, but also understanding that a full study should be done before creating permanent laws designed to hurt an entire community for choosing to fight back and not simply drown in the mistakes of previous administrations. Unless these officials are willing to pay for the costs of repairing 20 years of water damage, medical bills and preventing future flooding, they must let the study continue to determine the best course of action for both communities.

Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman has been at the forefront of solving Southeast Queens rising ground water issue. On June 28, her office, and several of her colleagues will hold a community town hall addressing the claims that the solution her office has come up will hurt communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It will also address questions raised by the residents of Southeast Queens. Hyndman is the assemblywoman for Queens’ 29th district.

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