Back in 2014, volunteers from the Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Sub-Committee of the New York City Surfrider Chapter created a 500 square foot bio-swale. It was the first citizen-led bio-swale project, turning a neglected parkway into a beautiful, functional space (read more here). The site needed some weeding, new plants and more mulch. So the Chapter's OFG Progam Lead (and Executive-at-Large), Jason Camhi, organized the maintenance day.
"Bio-swale" is a combination of two elements: "bio" meaning plants and soil, and "swale" meaning a space to retain water. This one absorbs rain waters coming off the nearby cement sidewalk, with the soil filtering pollutants and sponging up water for plants to tap during dry months. Because the storm drain and sewer pipes are combined in NYC, the bio-swale reduces the chances of a combined sewer overflow, i.e., raw sewage dumped into the river. In this case, the river is just a few hundred feet away (in the background of the picture at left).
The workday was done on May 27th, and once again, volunteers from Surfrider, Loomstate and Lower East Side Ecology Center got their hands dirty. Surfrider staff John Weber (East Coast Regional Manager) and Matt Gove (Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager) joined in, as well. Now the bioswale is in great shape. They got lots of "thank you’s" from members of the community as they were walking by! Click here to see more pictures in a NYC FB post.
To help inspire others to change their landscapes, Jason created an OFG webpage on the chapter's website (pictured at left). He took the webpage template posted on Chapternet and modified the content to fit NYC.