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Status and Trends: LISS Environmental Indicators

Type of Indicators: Health/Condition Response/Performance Socio-Economic Historical/Background

Floatable Debris (NYC)

Source: NYC DEP

NYC Floatable Debris
LIS Sites Volume (cubic yds.) Non-LIS Sites  Volume (cubic yds.)
1995 353 381.5
1996 801.5 928
1997 657 879.5
1998 418.5 396.5
1999 676.5 440.25
2000 351 262.75
2001 309 273.5
2002 592.5 527.75
2003 648 732.25
2004 928.5 565.25
2005 772 358.8
2006 1278 440.5
2007 1594 714.25
2008 1404 682
2009 945 632.25
2010 1304.5 991
2011 1275.5 714.25

What is Floatable Debris?

Floatables are water-borne litter and debris. They come mainly from street litter that ends up in the City’s storm drains and sewers or from recreational activities such as pleasure boating and beach goers. During certain heavy rain events when water flow into treatment plants exceeds treatment capacity, floatables may be discharged into the surrounding waters.

How does the NYC DEP Boom and Skim Program work to recover floatables?

A debris containment boom and skimmer vessel is used to contain against further dispersion of debris and skim floatable debris from a body of water. The NYC DEP has installed booms or floating barriers at 24 locations to capture floatables discharged from combined sewers, which handle sanitary and storm water.  NYC DEP skimmer vessels are used to remove floatable debris from boomed sites. In open waters like New York Harbor floating debris is removed by the Cormorant, NYC DEP’s largest vessel in the floatables fleet. The Cormorant can operate in the rougher waters of the Upper and Lower New York Bays (located off the tip of Manhattan through the Narrows) and up to 15 miles offshore. The Long Island Sound sites are: Bowery Bay, Bronx River, Clason Point, Cryder’s Lane, Flushing Bay (CS1), Flushing Bay (CS2), Flushing Creek 1, Flushing Creek 2, and Hunts Point.

What does this indicate?

This indicator measures efforts by New York City to remove floatable debris from their waterways.  From 1995-2007, data from all New York City waterways was combined, but beginning in 2008 data from Long Island Sound sites were able to be separated and tabulated.


Floatable debris remains a problem in the highly urbanized portion of the Long Island Sound watershed.

Data Notes

Data does not include debris collected by the Cormorant in offshore sites.

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