Friday, January 7, 2011

'Green' Median Project between North and South Conduit Aves. to Take Strain Off Sewers by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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Construction worker labors North and South Conduit Aves. project, which would reduce rainfall flowing into city sewers.
The grassy median between North and South Conduit Aves. in Ozone Park has become a test area for one of the 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 $730,000 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 stormwater, 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."