Anyone who was in Bushwick when Hurricane Ida hit last September can tell you that, when it comes to reducing flooding, this neighborhood needs all the help it can get. The storm surged throughout Bushwick, turning local avenues into rivers and destroying many of the neighborhood’s businesses and homes.

The good news is that, in November, New York State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a $29 million drainage upgrade at 19 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties, including at Bushwick II Houses. Through the construction of “green infrastructure installations,” the citywide project aims to reduce neighborhood flooding during times of heavy rainfall and minimize overflow in local waterways by capturing an estimated 55 million gallons of stormwater annually.

According to updates provided to Bushwick Daily by the DEP, the construction cost of the Bushwick II Houses project, which includes an upgrade to green infrastructure subsurface retention systems, is $4.3 million. The project is approximately 45% complete with five out of 11 assets constructed that will capture a projected 2.5 million gallons of stormwater each year. 

To put these numbers in perspective, when an inch of rain occurs across one square mile, that equates to roughly 17 million gallons of stormwater, according to the USGS. So albeit expensive and a positive move in terms of reducing flooding in the neighborhood, the new project is just one small step.

Installation at NYCHA Bushwick Houses

According to a DEP spokesperson, the DEP invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually to upgrade the city’s drainage system. Along with improvements in the sewer systems, the investments include other stormwater mitigation efforts, such as the construction of catch basins, rain gardens, Bluebelts and the separation of previously combined sewers to create dedicated stormwater and wastewater lines.

“For nearly a decade, DEP has been making substantial investments to capture stormwater and keep it out of the city’s sewer system, and funding these ongoing upgrades at NYCHA properties will improve the quality of life for residents while also reducing neighborhood flooding and any sewer overflow into local waterways,” stated DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We look forward to continuing this practical partnership with NYCHA in order to provide the same drainage and landscaping improvements at other developments across the five boroughs while simultaneously reducing any neighborhood flooding and improving the health of local waterways.”

In terms of preventing flooding, there are also things that individuals can do. A large contributor to flooding, like what happened during Hurricane Ida, is litter in the storm drains. When litter from the street and sidewalks, as well as leaves and other debris, collects in storm drains, it can block them and cause a backup. Read more about how litter influenced flooding during Hurricane Ida here.

Volunteers clean up a clogged storm drain the morning after Hurricane Ida hit Bushwick. Image provided by Madison Weber.

For more information, visit the DEP website.


Images courtesy the Department of Environmental Agency Flickr account unless otherwise specified. Featured image is of construction at Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville.

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