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Rain Gardens

New York City’s investment in green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient, and sustainable way to contain storm impacts. Rain gardens are a critical part of it: they’re effective tools in urban areas that improve water quality, reducing sewer overflow as well as flood, environmental, and health risks.

Rain gardens are small natural areas, typically located in a sidewalk near a stormwater catch basin. They utilize extremely porous engineered soil, a variety of plants chosen for their ability to absorb water and thrive in an urban environment, as well as porous concrete to divert stormwater from streets and draw it into the ground. By redirecting thousands of gallons of stormwater from City sewers and sewage treatment facilities, rain gardens reduce sewage overflow into local waterways during storms. They also increase a street’s drainage capacity, reducing the risk of flooding. Rain gardens are estimated to collect around 8 million gallons of water per year, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“The main goal of the rain garden is to reduce the amount of water that flows into the storm sewer,” said Miguel Ramirez, a DDC Resident Engineer who manages rain garden projects in the Corona/Elmhurst area. “When the storm sewer gets overflowed it combines with the sanitary sewer and that water is not treated. The rain garden's purpose is to prevent that from happening. With the installation of these rain gardens, the water is diverted from catch basins that are connected to existing combined sewer outfalls.”

Improving water quality goes a long way in making New York City more habitable. Rain gardens play an important role in that, carrying tremendous environmental and health benefits. They reduce toxins and other pollutants in water, turning streets greener and more resilient, especially in low-lying, flood-prone areas. As a result, more people are drawn to the water than before, whether it’s going to the beach, fishing, kayaking, swimming, or strolling by the river.  

Want to know how rain gardens are made? Watch the video below:

For more information, check out these links:

Environmental Protection Agency: Green Infrastructure

NYC Department of Environmental Protection: Rain gardens

NYC Department of Environmental Protection: NYC’s Green Infrastructure Program

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