New York City has completed a $148 million, three-phase program to reduce street flooding, ensure the reliability of the drinking water delivery system, improve the health of Fresh Creek and Jamaica Bay and make neighborhood roadways safer for all users, two city departments said in an April 22 (Earth Day) statement.
“No New Yorker should have to cross their fingers and hope their street or home doesn’t flood when they see rain clouds,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “This $148 million investment in 15 miles of new sewers and water mains for Southern Brooklyn will reduce flooding, protect our drinking water, and improve quality of life. We know that environmental justice begins on the ground, and through projects like these we will build a safer and more resilient city for all New Yorkers.”
The three-phase project includes sections throughout the Canarsie and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn. A total of 6.3 miles of high-level storm sewers were installed to alleviate flooding. To reduce combined sewer overflows into Fresh Creek, 0.2 miles of combined sewers were replaced and converted to sanitary sewers and an additional 0.16 miles of existing sanitary sewers were also replaced. To better capture stormwater and direct it to the new storm sewers, 176 catch basins were installed.
Alongside the new sewers, 8.3 miles of new ductile iron distribution water mains were built to replace the older cast iron pipes, ensuring a reliable supply of high-quality water for decades to come. Fire protection was enhanced with the installation of 128 fire hydrants to ensure that the FDNY has ready access to the City’s water supply. As part of the final restoration, all impacted roadways, sidewalks and curbs were reconstructed.
In addition, the wetland in the Fresh Creek Basin Nature Preserve was restored. The saltmarsh cordgrass habitat was graded and expanded in accordance with a design that was developed with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Fill, debris, invasive species and other ecological impairments were removed to create nearly 30,000 square feet of restored wetlands in two wetland zones comprised of 21,200 sa. ft. of intertidal marsh and 8,000 sq. ft. of high marsh. Plantings to compliment the saltmarsh cordgrass include saltmeadow cordgrass, spikegrass, and black grass rush. Nearly 34,000 square feet of coastal forest was created to enhance the overall ecology of the preserve.
Altogether, the three phases cover an approximately 419-acre drainage area and reduce combined sewer overflows into Fresh Creek, a tributary of Jamaica Bay. The increased collection of stormwater runoff reduces roadway and property flooding and separates out an estimated 50 percent of the stormwater flow from the combined sewers. By reducing pressure on the existing combined sewer system, modeling shows that overflows into Fresh Creek will be reduced by approximately 189 million gallons annually. This project is part of an agreement between New York City and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that aims to significantly improve the health of New York Harbor.