In gross news for the day, the New York Times ran a story highlighting the city’s Department of Environmental Protection “Wait …” campaign, which asks residents in parts of Brooklyn and Queens to “Wait…to use water during a heavy rainstorm.” Unbeknownst to many, rainwater runoff and household sewage flow in the same underground pipes. When there is a lot of rain, the overflow runs off into nearby rivers, bays, and creeks instead of to the intended water treatment plant destinations. The four things the site suggests you wait on are: laundry, shower, wash dishes, and/or flush the toilet.
Department of Environmental Protection
While you may have never heard of the term “bioswale,” you have probably seen these curbside gardens throughout the city. A bioswale, or rain garden, is a pit dug into the sidewalk that’s been filled with rocky soil and shrubbery. These gardens absorb polluted stormwater and prevent runoff that could seep into waterways through the sewer system. Despite being an effective solution to water pollution, the New York Times reports that some city residents are crying out against find bioswales, calling them unattractive, messy, and hotbeds for trash and pests.
What’s a bioswale? (We know that’s what you’re saying to yourself.) It’s a curbside garden built to absorb stormwater. The city currently has about 255 of them, but will be installing an additional 2,000 throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx to prepare for the possibility of more intense storms in the future. Not only will the bioswales absorb an estimated 200 million gallons of stormwater each year, but they’ll therefore mitigate pollution in the Bronx River, Flushing Bay, Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay and Newtown Creek.