Plantings will trap and filter polluted water after storms
For years, every time it rained or snow melted, water has cascaded from the 120,000 square foot roof of the ABC Carpet outlet store on the Bronx River’s east bank, picking up sewage, litter, gas and oil and other pollutants and carrying them into the river.
Now, Rocking the Boat and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation plan to deal with the pollution nature’s way.
BOEDC will install a 10,000 square foot green roof at the furniture store on Bronx River Avenue, while Rocking the Boat, the environmental and educational organization headquartered just across the river from ABC, next door to Hunts Point Riverside Park, plans to partner with an environmental artist to plant wetlands on the river bank below the store to capture storm water.
They will use money paid to a state fund by polluters. On Sept. 2, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a half million dollar grant to Rocking the Boat as part of a $5 million package of direct grants and matching funds from his office’s Bronx River Watershed Initiative.
Another $263,375 will go to BOEDC for the rooftop plantings it estimates will absorb 150,000 gallons of water each year.
In addition to capturing and cleaning storm water and helping wildlife to thrive in the newly-created marshes, Rocking the Boat will create a pathway to the river and a public boat launch.
Rocking the Boat plans to work with artists Lillian Ball, who designed a similar approach to keeping storm water out of a Long Island waterway. Pictures of that work, called “Waterwash,” which included plantings, meandering walkways and benches, is on view through November at Wave Hill, the public garden and cultural center in Riverdale, along with plans for the Bronx River project.
Using another $57,000 from the attorney general and $4,000 in matching funds, Rocking the Boat will also create two rain gardens at its headquarters in The Point’s river campus, redirecting runoff while serving as an educational tool for its youth and community programs.
Hunts Point will also be the site of an effort by the City Island-based Gaia Institute to recreate the mussel habitat that once helped filter water in New York’s creeks and rivers. With $1.09 million from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and nearly $350,000 from the attorney general, Gaia will create an acre of habitat for mussels near the foot of Farragut Street, in the vicinity of an abandoned Sanitation Department waste transfer station.
All-told 11 nonprofits, will share the funds to work on a dozen projects up and down the river. Other projects funded by the new initiative include:
• Nearly $1 million to the New York Botanical Garden to curb discharges that are currently flow directly to the river.
● Nearly $150,000 for Trees New York, an environmental non-profit organization, to plant trees on the western sidewalk of Bronx River Avenue. According to the attorney general’s office, the project will capture and treat more than two million gallons of storm water annually and serve as a prototype for other areas of the watershed.
● $77,000 for GrowNYC to create rainwater collection systems at five Bronx community gardens.
Money will also go to the Parks Department to install a green roof on is Bronx headquarters and to three towns and villages in Westchester.
Last year, the attorney general’s Bronx River Watershed Initiative distributed more than $3.7 million for similar projects, including funds for a green roof at The Point Community Development Corporation and for several projects of the Bronx River Alliance.
The funds come from more than $7 million the Attorney General’s Office obtained in settlements with City of Yonkers, the Yonkers Raceway Corporation,the City of White Plains, the Village of Scarsdale, the City of Mt. Vernon and the Town of Greenburgh, all of which had been polluting the river with raw sewage.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation administers the funds and evaluates applications for them.