Courtesy of DEP
The city has begun construction of 200 curbside rain gardens to help mitigate chronic flooding in Queens Village and Cambria Heights.

Construction is under way to add nearly 200 specially designed curbside rain gardens to the southeast Queens neighborhoods of Cambria Heights and Queens Village, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection announced.

Each rain garden has the capacity to collect and absorb up to 2,500 gallons of stormwater each time it rains, thereby reducing the volume of stormwater runoff draining into Jamaica Bay.

“Southeast Queens has dealt with flooding for decades,” City Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “We’re glad to see DEP using their full toolbox of flood mitigation measures to alleviate this persistent problem for our residents, and look forward to seeing their full implementation throughout Cambria Heights and Queens Village. Our residents deserve an enhanced quality of life, and any efforts to reduce the burden that homeowners in our community face is welcome.”

It is estimated that the 200 rain gardens will capture more than 20 million gallons of stormwater annually. Over the last several years, more than 4,000 rain gardens have been built across the city.

“We are investing $1.9 billion to combat flooding and improve the quality of life for residents and businesses in southeast Queens,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “Stormwater management in New York City requires a multi-faceted approach, which is why we are building out a comprehensive drainage system as well as green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, to naturally absorb stormwater.”

Rain gardens are built in city sidewalks and do not result in the loss of any parking spaces. The DEP conducted extensive outreach in the Jamaica Bay watershed area, including briefing City Council members, the Cambria Heights and Wayanda Park Civic Associations and Community Board 13 to inform residents about the purpose of green infrastructure and the benefits it will bring to their neighborhoods, as well as plans for future construction.

“Southeast Queens has been plagued for generations with flooding. There are many factors that are the cause of this problem; but its residents have still suffered with their homes and streets being overrun with water whenever there is a storm,” Community Board 13 District Manager Mark McMillan said. “The de Blasio administration, through the Department of Environmental Protection, has presently allocated $1.9 billion for various projects, big and small, that address flooding issues. Rain gardens are an example of an environmentally friendly way that both beautifies communities while providing drainage in flood prone areas. The community of Wayanda in the southern portion of Queens Village enthusiastically welcomes this mitigation.”

Rain gardens resemble standard tree pits, except they vary in size, have curb cuts that allow stormwater to enter and overflow if it becomes saturated, and have been designed i a way that will allow them to manage 2,500 gallons each during a rainstorm. More information about the site selection and construction process as well as frequently asked questions is available here.

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