CW Update: 2/19/2018 NYC Green Infrastructure

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February 19, 2018

Research of Green Infrastructure in NYC yields results

Researching the upcoming article on New York’s Green Infrastructure  (GI) Program took me around Manhattan and out to Brooklyn to visit several Right-of-Way (ROW) Rain Gardens.  Despite the fact that it was February, I was hoping to capture some usable images. Instead of plants, I found garbage.

The GI Program is being lead by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in conjunction with a whole list of agency partners. I’ll get into the details of the program later, but for now, I’ll share what I witnessed in the Brooklyn neighborhood that I visited.

Who maintains the Rain Gardens?

Debris-filled Green Infrastructure Rain Garden in Brooklyn. CurrentWater.CO
Debris-filled rain garden in Brooklyn.

The responsibility for maintaining the ROW Rain Gardens was held by DEP from the beginning of the program until 2015 when DEP’s Bureau of Water and Sewer Operations took the lead on maintenance. A meager staff of 15 was expanded to 25 by 2016, and plans were put in place to hire 40 more staff in 2017.

By the end of 2017 an anticipated 4,376 GI installations were constructed over an area of 78,749 total acres. That’s a lot of territory for each employee to cover.

To help lightened the load and engage communities to embrace the GI program, DEP is working closely with communities and neighborhood organizations to develop formal stewardship programs. The objective is to keep ROW Rain Gardens free of debris and allow the gardens to do their job of slowing down the flow of stormwater and filtering pollutants.

The photo above represents just one example in Brooklyn and while it may not be representative of the whole city, it speaks the truth about this location.

How large is the program?

New York has promised to spend $1.5 billion over the next 20 years on GIs while anticipating savings of billions of dollars by avoiding construction of hard infrastructure storm sewers and filtration plants. Installing GIs will not only save large tracts of natural areas, but will beautify neighborhoods, reduce sewer overflows, improve air quality, increase wildlife nesting areas, increase shading, increase property values and improve the streetscape.

What’s next?

In the upcoming article I’ll discuss NYC’s goals, the DEP timeline and whether they have hit their numbers, the areas and types of infrastructure being used, the Grant Program, the new Tracking and Asset Management system (NYC GreenHUB), the Adaptive Management platform and more.

I hope you’ll keep watching CurrentWater.CO for the upcoming article and join me in following New York’s aggressive plan to install significantly more GIs and reduce Combined Sewer Overflows.

Jennifer Croft


NYC DEP Green Infrastructure Presentation, click here

Seattle’s Green Infrastructure Program, click here

Milwaukee’s Green Infrastructure Program, click here