Raw sewage overflow is a serious problem that occurs when storms hit New York City and floods fill our harbors with billions of gallons of disgusting pollutants. Lately these storm surges have been overpowering the dated prevention methods that are currently in place, but the Environmental Protection Department has as new solution – inflatable dams. The innovative new devices have been installed in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Red Hook and work by inflating when storm surges are high, thereby controlling waste water before it can reach the harbor.

storm retention center, green design, eco design, sustainable design, sewage overflow, storm surges New York City, inflatable dams Williamsburg, Environmental Protection department, Red Hook,

Managing waste water is an expensive and arduous process. Building retention basins and retention facilities cost millions, and are not 100% effective. In order to increase efficacy, New York City has been combining these structures with greef roofs, porous pavements to absorbs excess water and bioswales, which collect storm water in ditches and filter pollutants with plant life.

Yet with all of these structures combined, New York City’s low elevation and many water ways still create a problem for storm surges.  That’s where the EPD’s inflatable damns come into play. Although expensive ($15.7 million for both), the cylindrical rubber structures can greatly diminish the fear of raw sewage dumping boundlessly into our waters. Each of the dams can hold two million gallons of water and are activated by sensors during heavy rains. When prompted, they inflate and block rain water, and collect wastewater right in the sewers. If their huge capacity threatens to overflow, the walls deflate slightly, releasing only a small amount of the overflow into the sewer system.

The inflatable dams will prevent 100 million gallons of sewage from entering the harbor, hopefully making a huge difference in water quality for New Yorkers.

Via NY Times