Bluebelts are ecologically rich and cost-effective drainage systems that naturally handle the runoff precipitation that falls on our streets and sidewalks. Originally implemented in Staten Island, the program preserves natural drainage corridors including streams, ponds, and wetlands, and enhances them to perform their functions of conveying, storing, and filtering runoff precipitation or stormwater. In addition to being an excellent mechanism for reducing urban flooding and improving the health of local waterways, Bluebelts also provide open green space for their communities and diverse habitat for wildlife since they are not constricted by closed pipes or underground infrastructure like traditional storm sewers. As New York City prepares for rising sea levels and heavier rains due to climate change, Bluebelts offer a natural and effective solution for stable and sound stormwater management.
For additional information, watch our bluebelt videos and read our press release on the $121 million expansion of the Mid-Island’s New Creek Bluebelt. You can also view NYC H2O’s Bluebelt Storymap.
A watershed is a geographic area that contributes water to a particular stream or waterbody. The Staten Island Bluebelt system drains 15 watersheds clustered at the southern end of the Island, in addition to the Richmond Creek watershed. The combined area of these 16 watersheds totals approximately 10,000 acres. The Bluebelt drainage plan for these 16 watersheds connects natural drainage corridors with conventional storm sewers for an integrated stormwater management system.
Wetlands located within the watershed areas act as flood control measures. Urban wetlands are especially valuable because impervious surfaces, like streets and rooftops, increase the rate, velocity and volume of stormwater runoff. By temporarily storing stormwater, urban wetlands help protect adjacent and downstream property owners from flood damage.
We have an ongoing program to purchase wetland properties for inclusion into the Bluebelt system. Other publicly and privately owned wetland areas are also incorporated into the system. These properties include New York City park land, New York State wetland preserves, Designated Open Space, and other City-owned properties.
How You Can Protect our Bluebelts and Waterways
If you see illegal dumping in progress, call 311 or fill in this online form. For more information on ways you can protect our waterways from harmful subtances, visit Safe Disposal of Harmful Products.