Project Strengthens Resiliency, Improves Harbor Water Quality, and Reduces Pollution
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a $13 million project to install green infrastructure improvements at multiple locations near Jamaica Bay. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery project included rain gardens, rain barrels, and a shade structure to mitigate flooding, enhance street safety, and reduce pollution across South Brooklyn and South Queens communities. The 123 constructed assets manage over 30 million gallons of stormwater annually.
“We remain laser-focused on funding projects that support our nation-leading climate goals,” Governor Hochul said. “This $13 million green infrastructure project in Jamaica Bay will reduce pollution, mitigate flooding, and enhance resiliency in the face of stronger storms. New York will continue to implement forward-thinking policies and make strategic investments to combat the effects of climate change.”
Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery Executive Director Katie Brennan said, “Green infrastructure helps New Yorkers both mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects. We are proud that this innovative project is making historically underrepresented communities in Brooklyn and Queens more resilient and better able to withstand future storms.”
The types of green infrastructure included in this project will enhance community resiliency by reducing flooding and enhancing street safety along roads that are frequently flooded yet serve as critical evacuation routes. Importantly, these measures also improve harbor water quality, reduce pollution by absorbing greenhouse gases, and beautify the local streetscape.
Rain gardens, which include filling an area with soil and installing plantings, can be built into the roadway curb line to divert stormwater flow before it can reach the municipal sewer system. Rainwater is captured, feeds the plantings like grass, shrubs, or trees, and infiltrates into the soil. They can also be installed in yards to capture storm water rather than overwhelming municipal sewer infrastructure. Shade structures provide creative solutions for rainwater collection by capturing water on the roof and channeling it into a nearby rain barrel for storage. They not only reduce the load on the municipal drainage system, but also produce a renewable source of water for use in gardens.
The green infrastructure measures were implemented at:
- P.S. 993Q & M.S. 72Q in Rochdale, Queens – the pre-existing paved lot was transformed into a large multi-use community area with three rain gardens, educational space and resilient plantings, as well as a shade structure. The gardens, which are tended to by the students, are being used as hands-on educational tools to learn about nutrition, biology, agriculture, and water conservation.
- Far Rockaway, Queens – Nine rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between Beach 108th to 94th Streets, from Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Shore Front Parkway. The project area includes Surfside Apartments and Belle Shore Condominiums.
- Gravesend/Bensonhurst – 39 rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between West 7th Street to Ocean Parkway, from Avenue P to Avenue R and Highland Avenue.
- Midwood/Flatlands (Southeast Brooklyn) – Seven rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between Nostrand Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, from a path connecting Kings Highway, Avenue N, and Flatlands Avenue south to Avenue P.
- Canarsie – 12 rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between 88th Street to Rockaway Parkway, from Avenue J to Avenue K.
- Idlewild – 53 rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between 135th Avenue to 142nd Avenue and 248th Street, from Brookville Boulevard to Hook Creek Boulevard.
During Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, these communities experienced heavy rainfall and storm surge which caused substantial flooding along roads. Since then, FEMA significantly expanded flood mapping within these areas. Water acts as a natural border for these communities whether it’s Jamaica Bay, Fresh Creek, or the Atlantic Ocean. The concentration of building types found within these communities presents numerous challenges to retrofitting for resiliency so green infrastructure is a much-needed tool.
The project was completed in partnership with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Community leaders gathered at P.S. 993Q @ M.S. 72Q to celebrate the project’s completion.
New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala said, “As we continue the historic $2.5 billion build-out of the Southeast Queens storm sewer network, the addition of green infrastructure can help us manage stormwater, mitigate flooding and improve public safety. I thank our partners at the Governor’s Office and Dormitory Authority and we look forward to adding these rain gardens to the City’s green infrastructure portfolio.”
Representative Gregory Meeks said, “New York City continues to experience severe weather events hitting areas like Rochdale and the Rockaways severely. I applaud Governor Hochul for the completion of the Comprehensive Green Infrastructure project, which will help these areas withstand future storms and emergency events. I’m continuing to work with my colleagues on the federal level to ensure the funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill goes to areas like Rochdale and the Rockaways to continue resiliency efforts,”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said, “South Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula know all too well the devastating impacts climate change and extreme weather can have on our communities. As storms like Sandy, Irene and Ida continue to threaten our borough each year, it’s never been more important to make the kind of investments our neighborhoods need to avoid destructive flooding and the dangers pollutants pose to our families. I commend the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for channeling millions of dollars’ worth of green infrastructure investments to South Queens, while also centering resiliency and sustainability for the students who will one day inherit this borough.”
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “Too many communities throughout New York City, including those I represent, have long faced underinvestment for green infrastructure. Installing new bioswales, rain gardens, and other structures will not only mitigate flooding and improve water quality, but contribute to the fight against climate change. These critical investments are long overdue, and I am thrilled that the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has completed this $13 million project that will benefit our communities. I thank Governor Hochul and all of my fellow elected officials and community leaders for their partnership to advance resiliency investments in Queens and Brooklyn.”
Established in June 2013, GOSR coordinates statewide recovery efforts for SuperstormSandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee. Through its NY Rising Housing Recovery, Small Business, Community Reconstruction, Infrastructure, and Rebuild by Design programs, GOSR invests $4.5 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding to better prepare New York for extreme weather events. More information about GOSR and its programs is available at http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/.
Through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction (NYRCR) and Infrastructure Programs, the State takes on a variety of initiatives developed during its bottom-up community planning process to improve resiliency, protect critical infrastructure, mitigate the risks of loss and damage associated with future disasters, and reduce hardship.
Now in the implementation stage, GOSR works with a variety of municipal, county, and non-profit partners to bring hundreds of locally devised proposals to fruition.