November 1, 2016
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are a method of reducing water pollution. They capture excess water from storms and send it through a number of natural barriers that strain pollutants and sediment from the water. These natural barriers are designed to come in many forms: runoff diversions, silt fencing, stream buffers, and groundcover vegetation. By channeling water to a designated area, they reduce flooding and filter storm water runoff without negatively affecting the surrounding environment. Adding more traditional sewage systems, such as drainage pipes, can be invasive and hurt the environment. By comparison, BMPs require much less construction effort and man-made materials.
We build BMPs most often in the borough of Staten Island. The Staten Island Bluebelt has the last major body of freshwater wetlands in New York City. The area also has the least sewage infrastructure of the five boroughs—prior to the installation of BMPs, the area experienced frequent flooding and erosion. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) developed the Staten Island Bluebelt Program to combat these flooding problems. Through an extensive review of regional topography, flood prone areas, existing storm sewers, and the condition of local water ways, DEP identified the best locations for BMPs. To prevent damaging the natural landscape of Staten Island’s wetlands, BMPs function as pocket wetlands.
Over time, BMPs encourage natural, healthy regeneration; visit one of Staten Island’s BMPs a few years after installation and you might find a thriving habitat with more native grasses and animals than before. As we continue to work with DEP to explore the possibilities of BMPs, we’re proud to help preserve the natural ecosystems unique to Staten Island. “The Bluebelt program is part of DDC’s commitment to building sustainable strategies that prevent erosion, pollution, and dangerous flooding,” says DDC Commissioner Peña-Mora. “This green infrastructure also provides a natural open landscape, promoting public health in the surrounding communities.” BMPs help us move closer to making Staten Island resilient and strong for future generations.