As the EPA begins its decades-long superfund clean-up of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, a landscape architect has plans to make the area a beautiful, natural sponge for storm water runoff. The designs for creating the Sponge Park out of the 1.8-mile long canal was just approved by the city's Design Commission on January 30.
The first phase of the park has begun, which will include a series of bioswales leading up to a bioretention basin at the end of Second Street. These initial natural elements will allow the park to absorb 4,500 cubic feet of water from Second Street on a rainy day, which easily meets the demands of nine out of 10 typical storms that shower New York, without the need for costly new underground tunnels and tanks. The cost of traditional storm water infrastructure upgrades is a major motivation for the city to try and implement some new, greener options.
The next phase will include planting a variety of plant species that can handle large amounts of rain, periodic drought and also help remediate the toxicity of the soil surrounding the site. Some of the species that have been chosen include tulip poplars, northern blueflag iris, holly, yarrow, honey locust, American sweetgum, switchgrass, sunflowers and sassafras. The plants will not only serve a great environmental benefit, but also make the current eyesore a nice place to take a walk.
The Gowanus Canal could be just one of 100 of these sponge parks put in place throughout the city over the next 20 years, which could save the city $2.4 billion over traditional storm water infrastructure.
Image via dlandstudio
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