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STATEN ISLAND BLUEBELT PROGRAM: STORM WATER MANAGEMENT UTILIZING NATURE

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Abstract:

The Staten Island Bluebelt Program represents New York City's first large-scale use of storm water “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) working in harmony with nature, to alleviate chronic flooding and provide drainage infrastructure. This innovative project is one of the largest multiple watershed-based applications of storm water BMPs in the US, making it a national prototype. South Richmond boasts the last major stand of freshwater wetlands in New York City and, before this project, was the last large section of the City lacking sewage collection infrastructure. The area was prone to frequent flooding and degraded water quality, which adversely affected the area's natural resources and compromised its resident's quality of life. To alleviate these conditions, the New York City DEP has implemented a comprehensive drainage management plan, utilizing and complementing the existing natural areas. This innovative approach saves existing wetlands that would have been destroyed if a traditional grid-like network of storm sewers had been implemented. The Staten Island Bluebelt Program uses BMPs to control storm water, which include constructed wetlands with extended detention, stilling basins, underground sand filters, and meandering streams. Along with storm water BMPs, this project replaces failing septic systems with a complementary sanitary sewer system.

Some of the major highlights and distinctive features of this project reflecting the successful completion of the first phase of construction are listed below:

Public Health/Safety: This application provides strong proof of the effectiveness of storm water BMPs on a large scale (even preventing flooding during Hurricane Floyd) and serves as a major milestone in making storm water BMPs a proven technology.

Preserved Natural Features and Improved Wildlife Habitat: The enhanced wetlands and improved water quality has greatly promoted biodiversity.

Project Complexity: The construction involved highly customized, site-specific design considerations to provide properly functioning and aesthetically pleasing facilities.

Community Acceptance and Resources: The project achieved enthusiastic public support by providing valuable educational/recreational resources and cost-effective drainage infrastructure.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864701790902040

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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