Using the Greenway to Clean New York's Waters

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative seeks to make the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway a key component in the city’s stormwater infrastructure network by preventing the release of raw sewage into the East River and New York Harbor after storms.

The route is situated along the lowest contours of Brooklyn’s East River watershed and presents a unique opportunity to implement green infrastructure cost-effectively by including it in the 23 capital projects that make up the 14-mile route of the Greenway.

NYC is under a federal mandate to improve water quality by reducing the negative impact of the city’s combined sewer overflows (CSO) on its water bodies. In 2010, the city released the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan based on a determination that, in many instances, its return on investment in “green” infrastructure, such as swales and green roofs, would be greater than an alternate investment in traditional “grey” infrastructure.

Click here to view the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Stormwater Management Plan

Click here to view BGI’s West St stormwater management plan.

How It Works

how it works

What We've Done

BGI and RPA hired WE Design to complete the West Street Sustainable Stormwater Study that showed how a sub-watershed based green infrastructure network could create a comprehensive stormwater solution using the greenway as its backbone.

In 2010, BGI, WE Design, and e Design Dynamics developed a set of design recommendations for stormwater infrastructure on West Street and negotiated with NYC DOT and NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for their inclusion in the pending capital project.

Subsequently, DEP agreed to add a $5 million high level sewer to the West Street greenway capital project. The high level sewer will prevent all of the stormwater falling on the northern half of West Street and on the side streets in that area between West and Franklin Streets, a total of 4.5 million gallons annually, from entering the combined sewer system, by piping it directly to the East River.

In 2012-14, BGI worked with WE Design and eDesign Dynamics to develop Stormwater Infrastructure Design Guidelines to achieve the incorporation of stormwater infrastructure in 15 priority greenway capital projects.

In 2015, BGI’s West Street Watershed Stormwater Project proposal was selected as a recipient of the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF). The project will design and install 54 right-of-way bioswales and greenstreets covering 4,845 sq. ft. on the ten streets that slope toward the East River between Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street.

Major project activities include: Community engagement in site selection and project design; Site assessments and selection; Design, construction, and planting of bioswales and greenstreets; and Performing maintenance of plantings.

The project will result in a substantial decrease in the volume and frequency of raw sewage releases from the city’s combined sewer system by installing bioswales and greenstreets “bulb outs” on sidewalks and streets in the area bounded by Franklin Street and Manhattan Avenue, and Green and Calyer Streets. This green infrastructure will capture and treat over 6 million gallons of stormwater annually, or 35% of the stormwater from the project area that otherwise would contribute to sewer overflows and pollute the East River. Combined with the West Street high level sewer, this project will remove over 10 million gallons of stormwater from the combined sewer system annually, approximately 39% of the stormwater falling on public right of way in the entire West Street surface watershed.

Click Here to view a presentation of green infrastructure being built in Greenpoint.

In Red Hook and Sunset Park, BGI is pursuing the implementation of the Greenway as a hurricane flood barrier.