Cloudburst Management

A “cloudburst” is a sudden, heavy downpour where a lot of rain falls in a short amount of time. Cloudbursts can cause flooding, damage property, disrupt critical infrastructure, and pollute New York’s rivers and Harbor. Cloudburst management implements a combination of methods that absorb, store, and transfer stormwater to minimize flooding from cloudburst events. Using grey infrastructure, like sewer pipes and underground storage tanks, and Green Infrastructure, like trees and Rain Gardens, cloudburst management can minimize damage to property and infrastructure by reducing strain on the Sewer System. Cloudburst management projects may also feature special community amenities and open spaces that can be used by the public.

Cloudburst Infrastructure

When considering potential cloudburst infrastructure, the City looks at factors such as:

  • the array of physical features, both natural and constructed,
  • the number and size of area storm drain and sewer pipes,
  • available space for new projects,
  • below ground conditions, such as soil quality and existing utility infrastructure,
  • the possibility of connecting green and gray infrastructure, and
  • the social and economic conditions of the people and businesses in a community.

Timeline

The City will conduct cloudburst feasibility studies in 2022 that will consider physical vulnerability, social and economic factors, and below ground conditions. A public engagement process will also begin in 2022 to incorporate community input into the planning process. The results of this work will be to implement cloudburst management in four neighborhoods by 2025, with more neighborhoods to come as funding is secured.

Get Involved

The City needs your help during the cloudburst neighborhood planning process to identify the best projects for your neighborhood and to learn about stormwater in your area. If you would like to join the mailing list and learn about future events and opportunities to get involved, please email onewater@dep.nyc.gov.

The City will also seek public input on future projects through a community board consultation process. To find out which community board you live in and get involved in the planning process for your neighborhood, Look up Your Community Board.

DEP has featured several public presentations as part of the One Water series. Visit One Water to view the recording.

Flood Preparedness and Prevention Resources

You can reference the NYC Stormwater Flood Maps to understand if your residence or place of business is at risk of rainfall-based flooding in the future. If you would like to report flood-related issues, such as ponding, street flooding, or sewer backups, please call 311. The City receives and responds to this information and uses it to plan future stormwater management projects.

It is always a good idea to be prepared for a storm. If your residence or place of business is in an area of elevated risk, use the following resources to take preventative measures:

Cloudburst Pilot Projects

Through a partnership with the City of Copenhagen, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection published a Cloudburst Resiliency and Planning Study in 2017.

As a result of the cloudburst study, DEP is testing the implementation of cloudburst management at the NYC Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) South Jamaica Houses. Download the NYCHA: South Jamaica Houses Cloudburst Master Plan 2018 for more information.

DEP has also begun to implement several other cloudburst pilot projects including: Clinton Houses, in East Harlem, Manhattan; St. Albans/Addisleigh Park, Queens; and Beach 67th Street in Far Rockaway, Queens. For more information about cloudburst pilot projects see pages 48–49 of the Green Infrastructure 2020 Annual Report.