NYC DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
On September 28, 2010, the City released the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan (the Plan), which set forth a series of initiatives and opportunities that dramatically change the way we manage stormwater. New York City, like other older urban centers, is largely serviced by a combined sewer system where stormwater and wastewater are carried through a single pipe. Even though treatment plants are designed to treat and disinfect twice the dry weather flow, during heavy storms the system can exceed its capacity and is designed to discharge a mix of stormwater and wastewater—called combined sewer overflow or CSO—into New York Harbor in order to prevent treatment plants from becoming compromised. Rather than build additional large storage tanks or tunnels to temporarily store stormwater at the end of the sewer system, the Plan determined that it was more cost- effective to first construct source controls and green infrastructure—including bioswales, green roofs, and subsurface detention systems—to control stormwater from impervious spaces such as roofs, sidewalks, and parking lots. Together with conservation measures and operational improvements, the widespread adoption of green infrastructure can reduce more CSOs at less cost than second-tier “grey” infrastructure. Moreover, green infrastructure projects provide many quality-of- life benefits to New Yorkers, by improving air quality, increasing shading, increasing property values, and improving our streetscape.
Over the course of the past year, DEP has made meaningful progress toward implementing the goals set forth in the Plan. By the end of October 2010, the City had already formed the inter-agency Green Infrastructure Task Force and had met to develop the project pipeline in order to add green infrastructure to existing and planned capital projects. By January 2011, DEP had appointed an Assistant Commissioner for Green Infrastructure, choosing Magdi Farag, an engineer with 50 years of drainage and sewer experience, and had formed the Office of Green Infrastructure of civil engineers and city planners to implement the Plan and oversee construction. In February, DEP held the first Green Infrastructure Citizen’s Group meeting, formed a steering committee made up of key stakeholders, and announced the first annual Green Infrastructure Grant Program. At the end of that month DEP announced that it had met a significant milestone by replacing all of the signs at CSO outfalls, thereby improving public notification.
About the NYC DEP
“The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is a City agency of nearly 6,000 employees that manages and conserves the City’s water supply; distributes more than one billion gallons of clean drinking water each day to nine million New Yorkers and collects wastewater through a vast underground network of pipes, regulators, and pumping stations; and treats the 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater that New Yorkers produce each day in a way that protects the quality of New York Harbor. To achieve these mandates, DEP oversees one of the largest capital construction programs in the region. As the City agency responsible for New York City’s environment, DEP also regulates air quality, hazardous waste, and critical quality of life issues, including noise.”