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Hundreds of Rain-Absorbing Bioswales Coming to Forest Hills and Rego Park

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 13, 2013 12:07pm
 The DEP is currently surveying sites for curbside bioswales.
Bioswales Coming to Forest Hill and Rego Park
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QUEENS — Little green oases will soon dot the streets of Forest Hills and Rego Park in an attempt to keep polluted runoff out of the city's waterways, officials said.

The city wants to build thousands of bioswales, planted areas that collect rainwater, on Queens sidewalks, from Corona to Richmond Hill and have already built 19 in Rego Park, said Margot Walker, Director of Green Infrastructure Partnerships at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.

The initiative comes because storm water that overflows the sewer system in Rego Park and Forest Hills drains into Flushing Bay, Walker said.

“The goal of our program is to manage and reduce as much storm water running on the streets and sidewalks in this neighborhood so that we can ultimately have a cleaner Flushing Bay,” she said.

The system of bioswales is designed to collect storm water, which is later either absorbed by the soil, trees and other plants or evaporates.

This way, Walker said, the water “infiltrates into the ground and are we are removing it from the wastewater stream entirely," she said. However, in the case of heavy rain, bioswales may not be able to absorb all the water. 

Walker said 19 bioswales have already been installed in the northern part of Community Board 6, including the area around Rego Park Center.

About 100 more will be constructed in Rego Park and Forest Hills this winter.

In early spring, the DEP, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the Parks Department, is planning to choose several hundred additional sites within Community Board 6, Walker said.

Experts have been surveying the neighborhood block by block to identify locations for new bioswales, which are usually constructed close to catch basins and on wide sidewalks.

It may take about 4 to 6 months to build a group of bioswales in a particular area, Walker said. The entire project in the neighborhood should be completed within 1.5 years.

Among plants that will be planted in the bioswales, will be red maple, pin oak and bald cypress as well as black chokeberry, daylilies, milkweed, cardinal flower and New England aster, Walker said.

The DEP, she noted, is also hiring crews dedicated solely to maintain the bioswales, which will also be constructed in other parts of Queens, including Flushing and Long Island City, and various areas of Brooklyn and the Bronx.

The DEP is scheduled to make a presentation about the project at a Community Board 6 meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7:45 p.m. (80-02 Kew Gardens Road, Suite 202).