During rainfall and snow storms, 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and stormwater are released into New York City’s waterways. These discharges are called Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOS). CSOs occur when treatment plants are overwhelmed by water flows that are more than twice the design capacity.
A number of sustainable methods of stormwater management have been proposed by environmental non-profits like Stormwater Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.) - a coalition dedicated to ensuring swimmable and fishable waters around New York City through natural, sustainable stormwater management practices, called Green Infrastructure, in NYC’s neighborhoods. S.W.I.M. insists in its mission statement that “this approach is environmentally and fiscally responsible because it utilizes stormwater, currently viewed as waste, as a resource.”
● Urban forestry (Green Infrastructure in Greenstreets, natural areas, parkland, street trees);
● Wetland management;
● Green roofs;
● Permeable pavement;
● Rainwater harvesting;
● Rain gardens;
● Community gardens;
● Composting and soil remediation;
● Shellfish restoration.
Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative, the Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan, and NYC Green Infrastructure Plan, have incorporated green infrastructure into stormwater management strategies. It is critical that engineers, urban planners, and policy makers continue to utilize these strategies in order to revitalize New York’s waterways, promote sustainability, and protect public health. In doing so, they can create opportunities for recreation, economic development, and protect valuable environmental resources.
How has your municipality or town incorporated green infrastructure into their long-term stormwater management plan?
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