Although most of New York’s natural wetlands and marshes were buried a long time ago in the name of urban development, there is now a growing movement to restore some of these natural elements in the name of Mother Nature. Tibbets Brook in the Bronx was covered up in the early 20th century, but water from the stream continues to overflow and often ends up clogging sewers with gallons of freshwater. According to the WNYC, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are working with the Parks Department to bring Tibbets Brook back to its original state in order to redirect its freshwater flow.

Van Cortland Park

Tibbetts is a small brook that starts just north of the Bronx and flows into Van Cortlandt Park. During heavy raid periods, fresh water from the brook overflows into the treatment plant, where the untreated freshwater and sewer water mix is eventually dumped into the Harlem River. During particularly heavy rain, the surrounding sewers get backed up and cause the streets to flood.

Related: $1 Million Awarded to NYC’s Lower East Side Ecology Center to Build Stormwater-Absorbing Wetland at East River Park

However, even on a dry day, up to 5 millions of gallons of water leaves the park’s lake and flows into the Broadway Sewer, where it ends up in the treatment plant. This water waste is why the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are urging the Parks Department to restore the local wetlands in the park so that more freshwater is kept out of the sewer system. By “daylighting” the Tibbetts stream path, green spaces on both sides of its route would absorb that overflow, much like Mother Nature had originally intended.

“We want to have the Tibbetts Brook do what it used to do: naturally go into the Harlem River,” said Christina Taylor, executive director of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.

Currently, the Parks Department is conducting various tests, but a feasibility study won’t be out until June 2017.

+ Friends of Van Cortlandt Park


Images via NYC Parks