Councilman Gennaro & Environmental Advocates Hail Passage of Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan
Councilman Gennaro & Environmental Advocates Hail Passage of Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan
Green Roofs, Permeable Streets and Other Innovative Methods to Be Used
BROAD CHANNEL, NY (Feb. 7, 2008) -- Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) was joined by environmental advocates in Jamaica Bay today to hail the passage of his comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan, which won unanimous approval in the New York City Council last week.
   Intro 630-A, when signed into law, will require the City to draft a sustainable stormwater management plan by Oct. 1, 2008.  The resultant plan would reduce flooding on neighborhood streets as well as protect the waters surrounding New York City from sewage overflows through the use of various simple but innovative methods recommended by experts in environmental design and construction.  Besides improving public health and safety, the plan would also enhance the use and enjoyment of the City's water bodies for recreational and tourist activities.
    "For too long, the city's local streets and water bodies have been flooded with billions of gallons of overflowing rainwater and sewage after heavy storms," said Councilman Gennaro, chair of the Environmental Protection committee and sponsor of Intro 630-A. "This bill commits the city to implementing the most progressive, natural and cost-effective methods in the country to control storm water and combined sewer overflows at their source. These strategies will have a profound effect on our city's streets and waterways for which our residents and successive generations of New Yorkers will be grateful."
   Currently, storm water runoff floods local streets, highways and homes and often causes the sewage system to overflow into the City's water bodies, causing approximately 27 billion gallons of untreated sewage and storm water to be discharged into the City's waters in a typical year. It has been reported that such "combined sewer overflows" (CSOs) dump hazardous pathogens into the City's water bodies, posing a danger to the public health, harming ecology and making local water bodies unsuitable for recreational activities.
   The stormwater management plan as outlined in Councilman Gennaro's
bill relies heavily upon "source control measures," which try to capture, store and divert stormwater before it reaches streets and sewers in the first place.  Some of the progressive techniques include water barrels on "blue roofs" and underground cisterns to capture and store rainwater; green roofs, green streets and green walls, all of which use soil and vegetation to absorb rainwater; permeable pavement, gray-water reuse and "high level storm sewers" that separate stormwater from sanitary waste.  This plan complements the City's comprehensive PlaNYC plan by going into specifics of how we can reduce flooding and make our local waters cleaner.
   Barbara Brown, Chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said:  "Not only will Intro 630-A lead to improved water quality and the ecological health of our waterbodies, thereby increasing recreational possibilities available in our waterbodies, but the implementation of measures called for in the Stormwater Management Plan should help to provide some of the greatly needed flood relief in many of our flood-prone areas, particularly in Southeast, Queens."
   Don Riepe, the Jamaica Bay Guardian from the American Littoral Society, said: "Storm water runoff and CSO's are a major source of pollution and poor water quality in Jamaica Bay and other water bodies in New York City. This bill will provide the impetus to move forward in a timely manner and reduce the negative impacts from these outlets. Many thanks to Councilman Gennaro for his consistent and aggressive help in improving our precious natural resources."
   Lawrence Levine, Natural Resources Defense Council attorney, said: "The adoption of this local law means cleaner rivers and bays in all five boroughs – and, literally, a greener New York City.  Green infrastructure is the perfect blend of simple common sense and innovative technology. Green roofs, smarter design of tree plantings, porous surfaces for parking lots and roads, and other creative uses of urban landscaping – all of these things help rainfall evaporate or soak into the ground, rather than polluting the nearest water body and causing our city's overburdened sewer system to overflow with raw sewage.  It's a win-win."
   Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of League of Conservation Voters, said: "This legislation is a vital building block in the city's efforts to improve water quality and make our extensive waterfront the recreational resource that it should be.  Thanks to Councilman Gennaro's efforts, this bill commits the City to studying the sort of innovative and cost-effective solutions that are our best hope of addressing the ongoing pollution of our waterways."
   Dr. Paul Mankiewicz, Executive Director of the Gaia Institute, said: "Stormwater is the single greatest resource, until now largely ignored, in the New York City environment.  This bill by Councilman Gennaro, and the strong support of Speaker Quinn and the mayor, is a major step to making storms that hit the City into contributions to environmental quality."
   Intro 630-A complements another law written by Councilman Gennaro, Local Law 71, which created the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan. Among other things, that plan is intended to promote low-impact development and best management practices for new and existing development (residential and non-residential) in the communities around the Bay.  It calls for a green roof/ blue roof pilot study, a rain barrel give-away pilot study, a parking lot pilot study, a housing development pilot study and various other evaluations and analyses ultimately intended to lead to improvements in stormwater management.
   Also present at the press conference was Mortimer Lawrence, chief of staff for State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, who has a long record of taking measures to protect the waters in and around Jamaica Bay.
Thursday, February 7, 2008