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For Release: Monday, April 17, 2023

DEC and OGS Announce Significant Milestone Reached in Hudson River 'Wedgewire' Project

New Wedgewire Screening System Minimizes Environmental Impacts of Hudson Riverfront Pump Station Operations in Albany

New York State Office of General Services (OGS) Commissioner Jeanette Moy and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the final phase of construction for a new wedgewire screening system at the Riverfront Pump Station in Albany. The system, announced as part of New York State's Earth Week celebration, is designed to substantially minimize the pump station's impact on aquatic life in the Hudson River.

"Under Governor Hochul's leadership, New York has focused its efforts on increasing sustainability and resiliency in State government operations while reducing our impact on the environment," OGS Commissioner Jeanette Moy said. "The installation of the wedgewire screening system in the Hudson River is one big project that will save millions of tiny aquatic lives. The OGS team deeply appreciates the DEC's guidance on this endeavor and is grateful to all the State and federal regulatory agencies we're working with to get this project to the finish line."

"DEC is excited to be a part of this project to protect Hudson River shad and herring fisheries and the health of other species that contribute to the river's diverse and thriving ecosystem," DEC Commissioner Seggos said. "With the support of Governor Hochul and our partners at OGS, the State's commitment to sustainable infrastructure like this wedgewire screening project and water quality investments across the state will yield significant environmental benefits for generations to come."

The wedgewire project involved the installation of a wedgewire screening system at OGS's Riverfront Pump Station. The pump station draws water from the Hudson River to cool the Empire State Plaza and surrounding buildings during the summer.

Wedgewire screening is made by placing V-shaped or wedge-shaped wire at set distances. The new wedgewire system consists of eight cylindrical screens that are seven feet long and six feet in diameter with 0.75-millimeter-wide slots that prevent small fish and fish larvae from being drawn into the water intake. The low intake velocity through the screens and the orientation of the screens to the flow in the river will minimize any materials and fish eggs collected on the screens.

The installation of the screens will reduce impacts to many fish species in the Hudson and will particularly help protect river herring and American shad, two migratory species that have suffered significant population declines due to overfishing, invasive species, habitat loss and impingement and entrainment of fish by water-cooling intakes at industrial facilities, among other factors. These fish are important members of the Hudson River ecosystem. In particular, river herring are a significant forage fish for striped bass, a popular sport fish in the Hudson. American shad once supported a significant fishery in the Hudson; protecting eggs and juvenile shad will help the long-term recovery of the species. The wedgewire screens were installed to bring the cooling water intake system into compliance with New York State's stringent water quality requirements. Regulations require that intake structures be designed using the best technology available to minimize adverse environmental impacts.

Working closely with DEC, OGS considered several technologies before it was ultimately determined that a wedgewire screen was the best option for reducing impacts on aquatic life and that the system's installation and operation would have little to no negative environmental impact.

The project required unique underwater investigations, dredging, and the driving of piles to support and protect two concrete manifold sections where the screens were installed. The project also required the use of divers, barges, a crawler-transporter, and a 400-ton crane barge. Work in the water could not impact the nearby navigational channel and was required to occur between mid-August and the end of December to protect the river's fish population. The screens are now fully operational, and the remaining construction work at the site is expected to be completed in winter 2023.

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