Tag Archives: bioswales

The city has a crush on your old toilet — literally


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

toilet

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Waste not, want not.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is looking for contractors to crush 200,000 toilets so the city can put the porcelain bits to other uses.

The DEP announced in May of this year that it is launching a $23 million program to replace 200,000 inefficient toilets in up to 10,000 buildings across the five boroughs. An inefficient toilet can use up to five gallons of water per flush, compared to a high-efficiency toilet, which uses only 1.28 gallons or less per flush.

But what to do with all the old fixtures?

The city intends to use the crushed porcelain in the reconstruction of sidewalks and bioswales, landscaped areas built to absorb storm water.

The porcelain from the toilets will create a flat, compact layer on which the city can lay the concrete for the sidewalk, according to Christopher Gilbride, a DEP spokesman. It will also replace the crushed stone in bioswales.

The project is still in its planning stages and the DEP has not yet identified which sidewalks and bioswales will be reconstructed with the crushed porcelain.

The effort, according to Gilbride, is part of a larger departmental initiative to reduce demand for water in the city by 5 percent before the city shuts down the Delaware Aqueduct for repairs in 2021.

The step will help ensure that the city has enough drinking water supply while the Delaware Aqueduct, which supplies about half of the city’s drinking water, remains shut for eight to 10 months.

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Parks Department postpones decade-long Whitestone project


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Parks Department

The completion of Little Bay Park’s comfort station is being postponed yet again, officials said.

The Parks Department said the most recent delay was due to a harsh winter and an unusually high amount of soil that had to be removed from the construction site.

The new deadline for completion is set for next spring and, once finished, it will end a project that has sputtered along for a decade.

State Sen. Tony Avella and former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman secured millions of dollars in 2004 to install bathrooms and expand the parking lot.

As of now, visitors to the park and Fort Totten must use portable toilets.

The department finally broke ground last year and announced that the whole project would be finished this fall.

But that deadline is going to be missed, according to a spokesman for the Parks Department.

While the bathrooms won’t be completed until next year, the Parks Department plans to complete a 100-space parking lot and install bioswales to absorb stormwater runoff this fall.

The current budget for everything is $6.659 million, a higher amount than Avella and Ackerman collected in 2004.

As construction continues, the majority of the park, which is named after the bay it faces, is fenced off.

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Former 1964 World’s Fair office building set for upgrade


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy NYC Department of Parks and Recreation


Recent talks of upgrading World’s Fair relics seem to focus on the New York State Pavilion.

But the Olmsted Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which was constructed in 1964 and used as temporary offices for Robert Moses and the World’s Fair Corporation staff during the colossal event, is also getting a makeover.

The Parks Department announced Aug. 4 that it is collecting bids for a contractor to renovate the center, which is named in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of Central, Prospect and Riverside parks. Today, the building houses the bulk of the agency’s capital project staff.

The renovation project, which is designed by BKSK Architects, is split in two phases.

The first is the expansion of the center with a new 10,000-square-foot annex building, which is nearing completion.

The second phase, which will commence in early 2015, will technologically enhance the building and resolve flooding problems. It will include a new water channel system to lead water into bioswales that will contain and absorb it.

The renovated building will include Kebony wood for the walkways, complimented by steel railings and stainless steel cabling.

The construction will also include new siding to improve the center’s resistance to weather, and reconfiguration of the interior to accommodate employees and people with disabilities.

The bids are due Sept. 8.

 

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Community concerned with city’s solution to deal with sewer overflow


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Department of Environmental Protection

Middle Village resident Pat Kannengieser is worried the city’s new solution to reduce sewer overflow will become her problem.

As part of its Green Infrastructure plan, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is getting ready to install hundreds of “right-of-way bioswales,” sidewalk gardens built to absorb storm water.

Kannengieser was told two bioswales will be built on the sidewalk in front of her house on 61st Road. She is afraid she will be left to maintain them and that she will not be able to park there.

“These are nice things, but they are not practical everywhere in the state of New York,” Kannengieser said. “The parking in our area is so pathetic.”

Bioswales consist of a city tree, flowers and plants on top of five feet of soil specially engineered to absorb water naturally. By sucking in rainwater, they help keep the sewers from overflowing.

Currently, 72 percent of storm water goes unabsorbed in the concrete jungle that is New York. It goes straight into the sewer system via catch basins in the streets and travels to 14 treatment plants around the city.

The plants can handle about 2.5 billion gallons of water a day, but during heavier storms such as Sandy, the water can pass that limit. The result is untreated discharge in people’s homes and in bodies of water around the city.

The Green Infrastructure plan was passed in 2010, with $2.4 billion dedicated to natural solutions to beautify and clean waterways. Those solutions include the bioswales.

“Bioswales are an important part of our growing network of green infrastructure that will absorb storm water naturally and improve the health and cleanliness of our local waterways,” a DEP spokesperson said.

There are about 100 bioswales around the city already and agency expects to set up 500 by the end of the year and thousands more over the next few years, the official said.

The DEP formed a partnership with the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation to erect the gardens.

To respond to Kannengieser and other residents’ concerns, the DEP will fund special crews in the parks department which will maintain each site regularly by cutting trees and picking up garbage.

The agency said the bioswales will not reduce parking spots, since they are on the sidewalk, and a chunk of every curb will remain so drivers that park in front of a bioswale can get out of their cars.

 

“They have to do it correctly, where it’s going to have the least negative impact,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board (CB) 5. “It’s important that they do a good job to maintain the bioswales and not put another burden on the property owner.”

The first sets of bioswales were implanted in Brooklyn near the Gowanus Canal early last year, but residents there are thrilled with the gardens.

“When it comes to the DEP bioswales, our biggest problem is that we don’t have enough of them,” said Brooklyn CB 6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “No complaints, only envious squeals.”

Giordano said DEP representatives will make a presentation on the bioswales at CB 5’s next public meeting on September 18.

FAQ-Green Infrastructure Plan

DEP ROWB Renderings_Final 1

 

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