'Green' median project proceeding in New York City to take strain off sewers


NYC green infra


Capture and Infiltrate Rainfall

The grassy median between North and South Conduit Avenues in the Ozone Park neighbourhood in the borough of Queens has become a test area for one of New York City’s largest green infrastructure projects.

The 13,000-square-foot site will be transformed into a natural water filter in an effort to keep stormwater and rainwater from overwhelming the sewer system, according to officials from the city Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s an innovative, ecological, green way to treat stormwater,” said John McLaughlin, director of the DEP’s Office of Ecological Services. “Instead of treating stormwater as waste it should be viewed as a resource.”

As part of the $US730,000 project, the grass will be enhanced with trees, wildflowers and shrubs. But the major work will take place below the surface where a bio-retention zone will be created with vegetation, sand and soil.

It is designed to divert about 200,000 gallons of stormwater from existing sewer lines. That’s about 90% of the water from a moderate storm.

The project is part of a larger citywide push to find more environmentally-friendly and cheaper ways to cleans rainwater runoff, officials said.

Mayor Bloomberg announced in September the $2.4 billion NYC Green Infrastructure Plan. The goal is to cut the amount of sewer overflows by 40%.

In many parts of the city, stormwater and wastewater are carried through one sewer system. When that system is overwhelmed – often by a influx of stormwater – a mix of the two is discharged into New York Harbor.

The city has been looking for ways to divert some of that stormwater through so-called green roofs and other places where water can be naturally absorbed and cleaned.

The alternative is additional sewer infrastructure, which could cost billions, officials said.

The challenge is finding and creating patches of green, large and small, around the city.

Green spaces have disappeared in Queens and other parts of the city, partly because of overdevelopment. Lawns have been paved over and open tracts of green land have been replaced with commercial and residential buildings.

“One system alone may not make a dent in the combined sewer overflow problem,” said DEP Deputy Commissioner Angela Licata. “The idea is to have several of these strategies in an area.”


About Ozone Park

Ozone Park is a blue-collar and working class neighborhood located in the southwestern section of the New York City borough of Queens bordering Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, and City Line, Brooklyn.


Posted January 2011