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Rain Garden Conserves Water at 180-Year-Old Lower East Side Building

 The Henry Street Settlement launched a rain garden last week on top of its landmarked headquarters.
The Henry Street Rain Garden
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LOWER EAST SIDE — Even when it's sunny outside, rain continues to fall on the Henry Street Settlement's garden.

The nonprofit launched a rain garden last week atop its 180-year-old headquarters at 267 Henry St., collecting and storing rainwater to feed plants in Henry Street Settlement's community garden.

"The rain garden is a way for Henry Street Settlement to maximize our green infrastructure initiative and help the community by creating a safer New York City," said David Garza, the organization's executive director.

In addition to watering the organization's own plants, the project also diverts rainwater that would otherwise end up in the city's already overstretched sewer system. 

"I like it because it parallels the work we do to help individuals gain sustainability — employment, nutrition and education," Garza said.

Henry Street Settlement volunteers and GrowNYC, an environmental nonprofit, started meeting with architects in January to design the rain garden.

A rubber catchment area on the roof channels water into a pipe that transports it to huge plastic containers at ground level. The system can store up to 400 gallons of rainwater.

At the pull of a lever, the water flows directly into Henry Street Settlement's community garden, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Park at 265 Henry St. The garden will host programs to teach kids and adults about sustainability.

The garden is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.