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Soaking-Up New York's Filthy Water With a Sponge Park

A 2,100 square foot park on the banks of New York City's Gowanus Canal is part of a plan to catch pollutants from storm off from draining into the already polluted waterway.
December 22, 2015, 5am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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David MW

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is investing $1.5 million in a pilot project that will see the creation of a so-called "sponge park," designed by landscape architects at DLANDstudio. The project is part of a 20-year plan that hopes to protect local waterways through similar ecological approaches. Lisa W. Foderaro of the New York Times reports that the park will be designed to absorb water through selection of plants and inclusion of "a network of sand beds and soils." If successful, the park may serve as a model for other cities.

The park is part of a larger effort in New York City and urban areas across the country to prevent polluted storm water from flowing directly into rivers or overloading sewage treatment plants. With combined storm-sewer systems like New York’s, in which one set of pipes handles both sewage and storm water, even moderate rainfall can overwhelm treatment plants, causing raw sewage to spew into waterways.

Foderaro writes that the park will be quickly assembled using modular pieces during the spring, with completion in about eight weeks.

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Published on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 in New York Times
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