Plumbers Union Local 1 Wins DEP Storm Water Runoff Grant
This year, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has embarked on a $4.6 million grant program for community-based green infrastructure projects. Among the 11 winners is Local 1 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada in Long Island City.
Mikelle Adgate, DEP project manager for Green Infrastructure Partnerships, said the premise of the Green Infrastructure Program is to find sustainable ways to manage storm water runoff in an effort to improve the water quality of New York Harbor at the May 22 meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet. “It is a fairly new idea,” Adgate said. “DEP will spend $187 million between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2015 on public projects for green infrastructure.”
In the East River watershed, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada Local 1 has won a $500,000 DEP grant to build a green roof system at its Long Island City headquarters building at 50-02 Fifth St. “For over 120 years, the members of UA Plumbers Local Union No. 1 have remained committed to providing clean drinking water and sanitary systems to the citizens of the city of New York,” UA Plumbers Local No. 1 Treasurer John J. Murphy said in the April 21 DEP press release announcing the award. “The DEP’s Green Infrastructure Grant provides us with the necessary support to advance an innovative green roof system that focuses on both energy and water conservation, highlighting the exceptional skills of our trade while preserving our most precious resources.”
The Local 1 green roof system will simultaneously reduce the urban heat effect and reduce storm water runoff. The project also includes a rainwater collection cistern that will collect and reuse water for supplementary irrigation. The Local 1 project is “uniquely positioned to serve as an educational tool for advancing green best practices, reducing the union’s carbon footprint and promoting energy conservation”, according to the DEP press release.
Launched by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010, the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan plots a comprehensive strategy to improve harbor water quality. Among green infrastructure strategies are the implementation of blue and green roofs, perforated pipes, porous concrete, and bio-swale projects. Like many older urban cities, New York is largely serviced by a combined sewer system carrying storm water and wastewater through a single pipe. During heavy storms, the system can exceed its capacity and must discharge a mix of storm water and wastewater (or combined sewer overflow) into New York Harbor.
The goal of the Green Infrastructure Plan is to capture one inch of rainfall on 10 percent of the city’s impervious surfaces in combined sewer watersheds over 20 years.
“Right now, 75 percent of the water in New York Harbor meets pathogen standards for swimming and just 19 percent meets standards for boating and fishing,” said Adgate. “The ultimate goal is to use water as a resource instead of as waste.”
In March, the DEP signed a landmark agreement with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), incorporating the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan with Clean Water Act compliance. An estimated $2.4 billion in public and private funding will be invested over the next 18 years in green infrastructure technologies.