NYC to begin largest ever expansion of the Bluebelt System on Staten Island

New York — New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd and Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Deputy Commissioner Eric Macfarlane announced that the largest ever expansion of the Staten Island Bluebelt will begin in the South Shore’s Woodrow area later this spring. Currently, very few streets in this area are equipped with catch basins or storm sewers and roadway flooding often occurs during heavy rain storms. The $48 million infrastructure upgrade will add more than three miles of storm sewers, install hundreds of catch basins, replace existing water mains, and include the largest ever expansion of the Bluebelt system.

The catch basins will allow precipitation to drain from the roadways into the new storm sewers which will then direct it to the Bluebelt wetland where it will be naturally filtered to protect the environment. In addition, four miles of new sanitary sewers will be installed that will allow nearly 600 homes to connect to the City sewer system and discontinue the use of septic tanks. The project, which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017, is being funded by DEP and will be managed by DDC.

“The Bluebelt system on Staten Island has proven to effectively manage stormwater and reduce localized flooding and we are excited to begin this $48 million expansion of the program in Woodrow,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “The project will extend sewers to nearly 600 homes in the area and allow them to discontinue the use of septic tanks, which will reduce headaches for homeowners and raise the value of their properties.”

“The Bluebelt system has shown that stormwater can be managed quite effectively by enhancing Staten Island’s existing streams, ponds, and marshes,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner Eric Macfarlane. “This expansion of the Bluebelt will create a natural wetland to slow down, retain, and release stormwater into the ground, rather than sending it into the sewer system. In addition, this project will ensure that nearly 600 homeowners no longer have to deal with the constant hassle of maintaining septic tanks.”

“I have spent a large part of my career pushing for the expansion of Bluebelts in areas where traditional sewers are not feasible,” said Borough President James Oddo. “The simple fact is that Bluebelts help reduce flooding, they are environmentally friendly, and they help beautify communities. This project in Woodrow is good news for residents. I also look forward to working with the new administration at DEP to bring Bluebelts online in other communities that are looking forward to the benefits they provide.”

“The Bluebelt system continues to be a smart investment for the South Shore,” said Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio. “It protects our homeowners, our environment and our drinking water, while ensuring that the generations to come will continue to enjoy a great quality of life in our communities. I am grateful for the DEP and DDC partnership that makes sure these projects come to fruition.”

“The Bluebelt is one of the most innovative architectural developments on Staten Island, and it plays an essential role in the management of stormwater in our community,” said Assembly Member Joseph Borelli. “The storm sewers and catch basins will be welcome additions to flood-prone areas, and an expanded Bluebelt will be of great benefit to Staten Island.”

The installation of 15,059 linear feet of new storm sewers, 197 catch basins and 133 manholes will help to better manage the precipitation that falls in the area and reduce localized flooding. In addition, 23,278 linear feet of new sanitary sewers will allow 590 homes to connect to the City’s sewer system and discontinue the use of septic tanks.

The award winning Bluebelt program preserves natural drainage corridors such as streams and ponds, and optimizes them to help control and filter stormwater. As part of this project, the stormwater that is collected from local roadways will be directed to a new wetland that will be built on City-owned property at the east end of Sheldon Avenue. The work will include the planting of 723 canopy trees, 166 shrubs, 36,850 plants and wildflowers, and 115,000 square feet of seeding. The Bluebelt will hold and naturally filter the stormwater before it eventually drains into the Arthur Kill.

Over the last 10 years DEP has built Bluebelts for approximately one third of Staten Island’s land area. In the South Richmond and mid-Island areas, the City has purchased approximately 400 acres of wetland property for Bluebelts that provide drainage for 19 watersheds, covering about 14,000 acres. The Bluebelts also provide important open spaces and serve as a habitat for diverse wildlife. Expanding the use of Bluebelts to reduce flooding and improve the water quality of New York Harbor is one of the operational goals outlined in Strategy 2011-2014, a far-reaching strategic plan that lays out 100 distinct initiatives to make DEP the safest, most efficient, cost-effective, and transparent water utility in the nation.

While the roadway is opened to add the new sewers the City will also upgrade the drinking water delivery system by replacing the old cast iron water mains with new ductile iron mains. As part of the project, 12,580 linear feet of 8- and 12-inch-diameter distribution water mains will be installed. Upgrading the water main network will help to ensure a reliable supply of high quality drinking water for area residents and businesses.

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