Playgrounds may be a favorite place for New York City children, but they have also become an ideal environmental solution for city officials. With a possibly rainy summer season ahead, the Department of Environmental Protection is teaming up with the Trust for Public Land to create unique water run-off solutions inside 10 new playgrounds throughout the city. The green public play areas will be equipped with the latest in rainwater capturing tools, including barrels, raised gardens, porous pavement, and underground storage layers.
New York’s underground combined sewer system mixes rainwater with sewage from public and private buildings. It takes only one inch of rain to overwhelm the city’s wastewater treatment plants, forcing almost 30 billion gallons of untreated water into the city waterways each year. The green playground solution will help capture and manage water before it hits the sewers below. While overhead barrels and gardens will store excess water, the porous pavement areas and underground chambers will slow the movement of water into the ground’s deeper layers.
Five schoolyards located near the city’s major watersheds like the Gowanus Canal and Newton Creek have already been pinpointed for the first round of rainwater collection equipment. A pilot version of the green playground was recently developed at P.S. 164 in Borough Park, with design contributions from the students and teachers themselves. This project will not only help reduce sewage overflow throughout the city but will give children the opportunity to learn about and care for the environment while still having fun!