Ocean Friendly Gardens, GAP
May 22 2015

NYC Surfrider Weaves Fun & Teamwork Into Bio-Swale Project

by Adrian Guzman & Paul Herzog

When it rains, our paved streets send lots of polluted water into our combined storm drain/sewer system. Overwhelmed with this excess water, our wastewater treatment plants are forced to dump millions of tons of raw sewage and street debris directly into our rivers (this happens over 60 times a year)! Not only does this poison and deteriorate our sensitive river estuaries - home to some incredible creatures like the seahorse - it also endangers thousands of NYers who utilize our waterways for recreation.

Loomstate teamed up with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Open Source Landscape to form "The Watershed Friends," seeking to revitalize some forgotten, degraded pieces of land in Manhattan and turn them into permeable, runoff-filtering, green spaces...called a bioswale (one of several low impact development techniques). By slowing the water down and absorbing it, bioswales store freshwater, prevent soil erosion and purify street runoff - and a nearby natural beach.

About 10 Surfrider volunteers came out to help, lead by Annie McBride, Surfrider-NYC Volunteer Coordinator and employee at Loomstate. This builds on last year's bio-swale project by The Watershed Friends that happened near the South Street Seaport, with 40+ volunteers over three days (pictured below). It was the City’s first citizen-led bio-swale.

In total, with the help of 50+ volunteers, a generous donation and ongoing support from the Double R Foundation, as well as the Citizen's Committee, The Watershed Friends have created 1,200sq feet of citizen-built swales!

Thanks to Adrian Guzman for writing this up!