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Maspeth to get bioswales

New and improved green infrastructure is coming to Maspeth.

Over 40 different locations throughout the area will be the new home to bioswales, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). These curbside gardens are built to capture stormwater runoff before it can enter the sewer system and contribute to combined sewer overflows.

According to the DEP, the installations are “critical to the city’s strategy to improve water quality in the waterways and green our streets.”

The work is expected to start on or about March 30 and finish by June of 2016. The full project will cost the city nearly $3.5 million.

Bioswales consist of a city tree, flowers and plants on top of five feet of soil specially engineered to absorb water naturally. By pulling in rainwater, they help keep the sewers from overflowing.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre
THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The DEP has invested more than $10 billion to improve water quality in the New York City harbor, which is now the cleanest it has been in more than a century of testing. They have committed to certain milestone projects over the next 20 years, the first of which in 2015 is to install right-of-way bioswales and stormwater greenstreets in specific priority Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) tributary areas, one of which is Newtown Creek.

One way to keep the water quality pristine is to reduce CSO that will ultimately discharge a mixture of untreated sewage and stormwater runoff into the harbors when it rains too heavily for the system to handle.

The building of these bioswales aims to help eliminate some of those problems. There is a large holding tank under each curbside garden, which will help to retain water during heavy rainstorms. The water will then be used by the plants above and help to keep CSO from running into the harbor.

This project will ultimately benefit Newtown Creek, which presently does not meet the water quality standards of the city.

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