Stormwater management plan in the works for Brooklyn

January 26, 2015 Anna Spivak
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A local organization, with the backing of the borough president, has devised a plan that could help protect the Brooklyn coastline from flooding in the case of a severe storm.

The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI)—a non-profit organization committed to the establishment, development and long-term preservation of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway— utilized funding allocated by Borough President Eric Adams to develop the plan to prevent up to half a billion gallons of stormwater from entering the borough’s combined sewer system as a way of reducing the amount of storm surge that could pour into adjacent waters and overflow onto solid land.

Since much of the 14-mile-long Brooklyn Greenway was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the plan details ways to reconstruct and install stormwater infrastructure within 23 segments of the recreational trail for cyclists, runners and pedestrians stretching from Newtown Creek to Bay Ridge.

“Here in Brooklyn, we don’t just ‘go with the flow’ when something isn’t working right,” said Adams. “When it comes to our overflow problem with our sewers, which are leading to damaging coastal floods and the release of raw sewage into our marine ecosystem, major changes are needed to protect residents, business and wildlife alike.”

According to BGI, the plan if implemented would contribute to a dramatic decrease in the release of raw sewage into the East River and New York Harbor during heavy storms, look into preventive measures for communities that were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy like Red Hook and Sunset Park, and implement a “watershed-based” system that will retain at least the first inch of rain that falls on the greenway, adjacent roadways, and streets a block away from the greenway.

“With the Greenway situated at the lowest contours of Brooklyn’s East River watersheds, it is ideally situated to play a major role in stormwater management,” said Milton Puryear, co-Founder of BGI. “Because 14 miles of streets will be reconstructed as the greenway is built, this is an opportune time to install stormwater infrastructure on the most economical basis for the city.”

The potential of the proposal will be demonstrated through a project that is scheduled to start later this year, according to BGI, which said that the city’s Department of Environmental Protection would be adding a high level sewer costing $5 million to the Greenpoint leg of the Greenway starting in 2015.

This sewer is intended to capture storm water from West Street and the side streets between Franklin and West Streets to be let out into the East River, which, according to BGI, will prevent 4.5 million gallons of stormwater a year from entering the combined sewer system.

In addition, according to material provided by BGI, additional stormwater infrastructure will be installed between Franklin Street and Manhattan Avenue, thanks to a $1.9 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. This added protection will keep another six million gallons of stormwater from entering the combined sewer system annually.


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