New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is about to add a whole lot of greenery to the concrete jungle. He just announced a campaign to install green roofs, sidewalks and porous parking lots in order to capture excess rainwater and runoff. The idea comes as part of Bloomberg’s PlaNYC goal of making 90% of New York City’s waterways suitable for recreation — right now excess sewer and rain runoff is making them unsuited for fun. The proposed green surfaces would eliminate 40% of the existing runoff into the waterways and save taxpayers $2.4 billion dollars over the next 20 years.

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New York City has a number of problems standing in the way of making their waterways recreational — they’ve had their fair share of brownfields, and currently there’s two superfund sites in Brooklyn, the Gowanus Canal and Newton Creek. One of the problems the city must get around is its antiquated water system, which was built 150 years ago when the concept of pollution wasn’t at the forefront of engineers’ minds. Currently the system works fine, until it rains, when runoff and sewage are spewed into rivers, canals and the harbor. The proposed green roofs, sidewalks, and parking lots would be equipped to soak up at least an inch of rain — sometimes more — and would seriously reduce the need for costly water system infrastructure that is needed to stop the sewage from spewing all over New York City’s waterways.

Currently the city’s plan is to ramp up the technological infrastructure of the water system and use costly equipment to stop the spewing. This plan would cost $6.8 billion, however Bloomberg’s initiative could accomplish the same goal at a fraction of the cost. Not only would the green roofs be less expensive but they’ll save taxpayers money by keeping their water bills low — more infrastructure, more cost to the taxpayers. This is all part of Bloomberg’s ambitious PlaNYC goals of cutting the city’s emissions and cleaning its air and waterways. As with many of the PlaNYC initiatives Bloomberg has just announced the strategy — details of how many green roofs and where they will be placed will come at a later date.

Via Reuters