January 9, 2023
$390 Million Projects Will Develop Innovative Methods to Absorb, Store, and Transfer Stormwater Caused by Sudden, Heavy Downpours
City Announces Four New Cloudburst Sites in Corona, Kissena Park, Parkchester, and East New York
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the expansion of the city’s Cloudburst Program — which constructs clustered stormwater management projects in flood-prone communities — to four new neighborhoods, a major milestone in the city’s continued resiliency efforts to better prepare for intense rainfall events, like Hurricane Ida in the past. Supported with nearly $400 million in capital funds, these specially designed, built, and engineered infrastructure projects will protect residents and property in Corona and Kissena Park, Queens, Parkchester, Bronx, and East New York, Brooklyn from future extreme weather brought about by climate change.
“Four months ago, DEP Commissioner Aggarwala and I announced our plans for rainfall management, to protect our city and prevent future tragedies like what we saw during Hurricane Ida,” said Mayor Adams. “Today, we are pleased to announce a significant milestone in that plan. This $400 million investment in stormwater management projects cement New York City’s status as a national and global leader in green infrastructure, and shows our commitment to protecting New Yorkers from disastrous floods.”
“Environmental justice is a hallmark of Mayor Adams’ and DEP’s vision for a more resilient New York,” said Chief Climate Officer and DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “This is the largest capital investment in cloudburst design in the U.S. and highlights the mayor’s commitment to environmental social justice.”
The Cloudburst Program has already begun work in three neighborhoods: South Jamaica and St. Albans, Queens and East Harlem, Manhattan. Selection of the latest four areas was led by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), and the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). The selection process used a framework that examined historic and future stormwater flooding hotspots, existing city projects, environmental justice areas, and social factors that may increase vulnerability to stormwater flooding.
The projects are being funded with a combination of city and federal funds. An eighth neighborhood has also been chosen in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and the city is pursuing available funding options while planning projects there. More than two dozen additional locations are also being evaluated for inclusion in the Cloudburst Program. DEP will continue to aggressively apply for federal funding to support this vital work and expand this critical program.
The historic investment being announced today will also allow DEP to install innovative and adaptive methods of absorbing, storing, and transferring stormwater to prevent flooding during a “cloudburst” — a sudden, heavy downpour of rain in a short period of time. Cloudbursts damage property, disrupt critical infrastructure, and pollute New York’s rivers and harbor. The Cloudburst Program incorporates grey and green infrastructure, as well as open spaces, to store excess stormwater until torrential rains pass and there is sufficient capacity in the neighborhood drainage system to better manage it. The sites will incorporate various projects intended to mitigate future extreme weather events predicted to bring up to 2.3 inches of rainfall per hour, as well as fortify neighborhoods against climate change. Construction on the four new sites is expected to begin in 2025.
Today’s announcement delivers on a promise made by Mayor Adams and DEP Commissioner Aggarwala last September, on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida, to select four locations for the Cloudburst program by the end of 2022. These projects also come in response to two city reports: 2022 Long Term Stormwater Resilience Vision and The New Normal Report: Combating Storm-Related Extreme Weather In New York City, which prioritized stormwater resilience initiatives, including cloudburst management projects in areas vulnerable to flooding from heavy rain.
In the past year, the city has finished construction on 2,300 new curbside rain gardens and started construction on another 1,000. The city also completed four new Bluebelts, and has deployed 31 FloodNet sensors in all five boroughs and will increase the number of sensors to 500 over the next five years. Additionally, the city’s green infrastructure program has greened more than 2,000 acres and implemented more than 17,000 linear feet of porous pavement with an additional 300,000 liner feet in design.
“Threats from climate change come in many forms, including more frequent and heavier rainstorms. These Cloudburst sites provide vital and commonsense infrastructure to hold rainwater from heavy and sudden storms, sparing our streets and properties from flooding,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “These projects aim to build off of the growing number of green infrastructure efforts already implemented throughout the city, such as porous surfaces and rain gardens, and with these continued agency collaborations, we can focus on saving more lives and minimizing the inconvenience that comes from these flooding events.”
“Expanding our cloudburst programs is key in helping us protect New Yorkers from extreme rainfall, and making our city greener,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Director Kizzy Charles-Guzmán. “Green infrastructure projects are much-needed in environmental justice communities, and the proposed ideas will expand and improve access for pedestrians and cyclists.”
“Cloudbursts can cause significant damage to our city and our parkland, and today’s announcement represents another major step from this administration towards making us more prepared for excessive precipitation,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “Rainfall mitigation is already a key component of our greenspace designs and in-park infrastructure, and we look forward to continuing our long-running partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection as we work collaboratively on these four new Cloudburst sites.”
“DDC builds thousands of pieces of green infrastructure every year, such as infiltration basins that divert stormwater away from city sewers, and we’re developing other approaches such as porous concrete that can be integrated into a comprehensive neighborhood-wide approach to cloudburst management,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “Mayor Adams has called for capital process reform and I renew that call for resiliency projects so we can use taxpayer funds most efficiently as we approach these multi-faceted infrastructure projects.”
“Climate change is real, so preparing for more and more extreme storms is a necessity,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We are proud to collaborate with our partners at DEP, NYC Parks, and DDC to help address street flooding in these priority neighborhoods — and at the same time, we are identifying opportunities within these critical projects to incorporate pedestrian and bicyclist safety, which are also important tools in our efforts to combat a changing climate. We are grateful that the mayor’s leadership has pinpointed communities that need creative solutions to mitigate the kind of terrible flooding that we know can too often ruin New Yorkers’ lives and property.”
“With this initiative, New York City is taking a major step in flood-proofing the city,” said Lykke Leonardsen, head of program for resilient and sustainable city solutions, City of Copenhagen, Denmark. “Copenhagen and New York have worked intensively together for the past seven years on developing this and it is fantastic to see how it will now become a reality.”
“Over the last ten years, hurricanes and extreme flooding events have torn through New York City, devastating families and destroying homes,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Though much has been done to improve our storm mitigation measures and climate resiliency, we still need projects like those constructed by the Cloudburst Program to protect New Yorkers from these extreme weather events. I want to thank Mayor Adams for his efforts to better protect residents in vulnerable areas from flooding, and I will continue to fight for federal funds for these types of projects.”
“I am thrilled the Parkchester community is part of the expansion of an innovative program that looks to protect flood-prone communities from the damaging effects of climate change,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “I want to thank Mayor Adams along with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation, and the New York City Department of Design and Construction for their work in expanding the Cloudburst Resiliency Program that will help communities be safe in the face of excessive rainfall.”
“Just last month, we saw how desperately Queens, especially Southeast Queens, is in need of updated infrastructure,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Having more of this critical green and grey infrastructure in Queens will help our neighbors in case of severe weather, which our borough and city have become far too familiar with in recent years.”
“The damage caused by Hurricane Ida to Queens homeowners has made what we already knew unignorable,” said New York State Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “Flooding is a constant occurrence as storms become more common and devastating. This investment in flood resiliency is essential to combat devastating flooding in our neighborhoods.”
“Resiliency infrastructure is key to winning the fight against climate change. Every day, the world emits over 140 million tons of global warming pollution, which will cause sea levels in our city to rise as much as 75 inches in this century,” said New York State Assemblymember Rajkumar. “Mayor Adams’ Cloudburst Program is a safeguard against the catastrophic damages of the climate crisis, giving hope to millions of New Yorkers in the crosshairs. Just weeks ago, here in South Queens, three feet of floodwaters engulfed the neighborhoods along Jamaica Bay, leaving millions of dollars in damage in its wake. The mayor’s plan to absorb, store, and transfer stormwater is the intervention we need to preserve our city for generations to come, and I will partner with him to ensure South Queens and all flood-prone neighborhoods have the protection they need.”
“Resiliency infrastructure is essential to the health and safety of our communities,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “I applaud the efforts the administration has taken to help the city's neighborhoods withstand storms, and I hope the mayor will extend these efforts to communities like the Rockaways that urgently require protection from flooding events.”
“My constituents have seen firsthand the devastating impacts of extreme weather events, including the loss of three lives on Peck Avenue during Hurricane Ida,” said New York City Councilmember Sandra Ung. “Since taking office, I have urged officials at all levels of government to take steps to address the increasingly common flooding experienced by homeowners and residents in the neighborhoods around Kissena Park. These innovative methods to manage stormwater before it overwhelms the sewer system are the kind of creative approaches we need to begin to mitigate the local effects of intense rainfall. I was proud to support DEP’s efforts to secure federal funding for the Cloudburst Program, and I look forward to work beginning on these critical resiliency projects.”
“The impact of intense rainfalls has devastated communities, like mine in the Northeast Bronx, which has a history of flooding and infrastructure concerns. By investing in our infrastructure and expanding resiliency projects, we can prevent extreme weather from damaging our communities. I look forward to seeing the Cloudburst Expansion project across New York City,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez.