Saturday, September 12, 2009

New York City Gets $220 Million Clean Water Stimulus Grant - Environmental News Service (ENS) Newswire

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Paerdegat Basin Bridge crossing Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn - Photo by Mike Ruby
The City of New York will receive $220 million in Recovery Act funding for water infrastructure improvements via the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

New York Governor David Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday announced the city's planned water quality improvement projects that will be covered by the federal economic stimulus funding. Two of the projects will directly address storm-water issues.

The city will receive $2 million to reduce flooding from heavy rains in the boroughs of Staten Island, the Bronx, and Queens by transforming existing roadway drainage into green infrastructure that will both beautify neighborhoods and protect local waterways from untreated storm-water runoff.

To accomplish these objectives, the city will plant trees, build street planters, and landscape rain swales, which will capture and store more water during heavy rains. The Corporation has worked closely with the Mayor's Office and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to address flooding hot-spots in neighborhoods such as Cambria Heights and Far Rockaway in Queens and Pelham Parkway in the Bronx.

Project construction is expected to begin next January and be completed in January 2012, at which time the property will be maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

The city will receive $20 million to restore 38 acres of wetlands and natural grasslands adjacent to the Paerdegat Basin Combined Sewer Overflow Facility located on the shores of Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn.

With nearly 500,000 residents living in the drainage area of the basin, storm-water runoff has increased five-fold annually since the 1930s. The city will implement an environmentally friendly storm-water management plan by reintroducing local vegetation, restoring the shoreline, and constructing a large catch basin to prevent rainwater runoff and street litter from reaching Jamaica Bay.

When the project is completed, five acres of parkland will become the Ecology Park, which will offer open access to salt marshes and grassland areas with permeable pavement walkways and viewing platforms. The park will include exhibits so that schools and tourists can learn about the coastal habitats in the New York City region.

Project construction is expected to be completed in January 2012 and then the property will be maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

The bulk of the Recovery Act funding will be spent on energy efficiency and equipment upgrades to save money and improve water quality at waste-water treatment facilities in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

Calling the funding "important and urgently needed," Governor Paterson said, "These projects will provide a bounty to New York City by saving money through increased energy efficiency, protecting our waterways through improved waste-water treatment, reducing flooding after heavy rains and restoring precious wetlands."

"The city has tremendous infrastructure needs and this funding is an important down payment on protecting and improving our urban waterways," the governor said.

"We have the nation's most sweeping urban environmental agenda, so we leave our children a greener, healthier city, said Mayor Bloomberg.

"The infusion of stimulus dollars for water projects will bolster our aggressive programs and help us improve water quality in our rivers and bays, reduce flooding in areas that have long suffered from storm-water flooding particularly in Southeast Queens, fund open space and open street greening projects and create jobs quickly with projects that will all begin in the next few months," said the mayor.

Both officials thanked President Barack Obama and the New York Congressional Delegation for ensuring that money to help resolve New York's water quality problems was included in the economic stimulus package.

The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation will administer the city's $220 million grant, working with the U.S. EPA, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority.

This is not the first clean water Recovery Act funding New York has received.

In April, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson awarded New York State a $432 million clean water grant from the stimulus package.

Since then, Governor Paterson has announced 39 clean water projects totaling more than $560 million that will receive financial assistance from the stimulus program in combination with Environmental Facilities Corporation low-interest Clean Water State Revolving Fund financing.