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Get Your Mind in the Gutter, Literally

When it rains, it pours – waste water and storm runoff into the surrounding waterways that is.

New York City’s century old sewer system combines the rainwater that runs off paved surfaces such as roadways and sidewalks with the same pipes that carry our sewage. When the City’s treatment plants overload (which happens quite often) the excess (about 27 billion gallons per years) spills from 490 overflow pipes throughout the city’s five boroughs into local waterways. This limits how New Yorkers can safely access the waterfront, and impairs our estuary ecosystem.

The New York City Environmental Fund, Storm Water Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.), and the The North Brooklyn Compost Project are teaming up to ask New Yorkers to get their minds in the gutter to come up with some creative ways to help stop the pollution and protect the local marine habitat. Specifically: How do we utilize the existing 6K miles of roadway and accompanying 12K miles of sidewalk as an opportunity for stormwater management? The majority of roads are crowned, water flows some distance along a gutter adjacent to sidewalks and existing vegetation and escapes into a storm drain. What can we do with what we’ve got? Where is your intervention?

Check out the new website Entries are due February 15th 2010 so get designing!


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