New Yorkers looking to green up their neighborhoods now have a chance to get some serious funding for their ideas. The Department of Environmental Protection is currently accepting applications for new projects that will help absorb rainwater to prevent sewer overflows into waterways, and is offering $6 million in grants for the best submissions. The Green Infrastructure Grant Program is open to community groups, non-profits, and property owners with designs on how to reduce and manage storm water in their communities.
Only select projects will be chosen, and only those that reduce or manage a minimum of one inch of storm water will be considered. The NYC DEP is also giving priority to projects near watersheds and areas of land that drain into a common waterway such as Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek, Jamaica Bay, and Flushing Bay.
DEP spokesman Ted Timbers told DNAinfo that the program’s goal is to alleviate the amount of water that flows into New York City sewers. On top of draining rainwater, sewers also take on all of the wastewater from homes including toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and washing machines. The combined effect sometimes results in overflow problems, especially in a city of concrete and asphalt where over 70 percent of the ground is impermeable to precipitation.
The goal of the Green Infrastructure Grant Program is to combat this problem by planting more natural fields full of plants that can help absorb rainwater. In the last three years, funded projects have included a 43,400-square-foot green roof at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, permeable pavers and rain gardens at Queens College, and a green roof at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in Manhattan.
The DEP will accept applications for the green projects in the spring and fall. Applicants in search of grants will also be able to speak with DEP engineers to hash out ideas before applying. According to the DEP, projects eligible for funding include rain gardens, roof gardens, porous pavement and rainwater harvesting on private property in combined sewer areas.