We’ve seen many interesting infrastructure proposals that aim to protect New York City from storms and flooding, but it’s much more exciting when the plans are actually implemented. Inhabitat first wrote about a plan to construct a stormwater-absorbing wetland at East River Park back in January 2013, and New York State recently awarded the non-profit Lower East Side Ecology Center with a $1 million grant to get started on the ambitious project. In addition to offering protection from future extreme weather, the soft infrastructure will initiate a new and sustainable waste management model for the Lower East Side.


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The vision for the East River Park project stemmed from the center’s composting operation, located just south of the East River Park amphitheater. Within the center’s compost process, a wastewater nitrogen-rich by-product is created that is harmful to most plants. However, by creating an adjacent artificial wetland at the Ecology Center’s compost facility, the organization aims to “clean the leachate by running it through a series of physical and botanical filters, such as specially-sized gravel and nitrogen-fixing plants and then put it to work growing plants and creating habitats for butterflies, insects, amphibians, and birds.”

Related: How ‘Soft Infrastructure,’ Like Wetlands and Green Roofs, Could Help Protect NYC from Future Storms

According to the Ecology Center’s executive director, Christine Datz-Romero, the wetland will also produce a “permeable infrastructure” during normal weather conditions such as rain and snow storms but will also offer protection from more extreme weather events such as hurricanes or superstorms. Like many other areas located on the NY and NJ coastlines, East River Park was flooded heavily by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

Additionally promising is that the project will be used to engage and educate local Lower East Side residents, who will be consulted on the design of the wetland. Throughout the process, the project’s implementation will serve as a model for sustainable waste management in New York City.

Construction on the artificial wetland is expected to begin in late 2015.

+ Lower East Side Ecology Center

Via The Lo-Down NY