On our tour, we first stopped at City Hall where we met the Chief Resiliency Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer. We learned that Hoboken is in the middle of an ambitious green infrastructure plan. With dozens of parks, right-of-way swales, and stormwater detention basins already constructed, Hoboken is seeking every opportunity to turn hard surfaces into stormwater features. With a population of 50,000 and only about a square mile of land, the city sits very low on the Hudson River, with much of the city only a few feet above sea level. Acknowledging sea level rise, increasing rainfall intensity, and coastal vulnerability to future storms like Hurricane Sandy, Hoboken planners are designing all of their green infrastructure with the foresight for larger, more frequent storms with a higher sea level to protect the city in the future. City Hall is showcasing green infrastructure BMPs (Best Management Practices) through permeable pavement, rainwater harvesting cisterns, rain gardens and a green roof model.
We also visited Stevens Institute where we learned about some of the geotechnical constraints to building green infrastructure in Hoboken, such as high water table and clay soils. Stevens professors and students are studying non-infiltrating systems, like concrete-lined planters and green roof systems to maximize stormwater detention in a limited space. Students from Stevens competed in EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge in 2015 and won second place for their Master Plan for the campus. One of their proposed green infrastructure techniques was a rain garden that is currently being built out.
On October 3rd, NYC Soil & Water Conservation District took green infrastructure practitioners, city agency representatives, and advocates on a green infrastructure tour in Hoboken NJ. This year’s tour included a bike option, and we had over a dozen participants join the tour using Hoboken’s bike share program, Hudson Bike Share.
One of the most exciting stops on our tour was the Southwest Resiliency Park, which is the first of three stormwater parks that are being built to meet the neighborhood’s needs while taking on stormwater from the surrounding area. The design for the park was developed through several community engagement meetings, where city planners asked neighborhood residents what they wanted to see happen on this former parking lot. The park now features a dog park, multi-purpose lawn, and passive recreational space. In addition to rain gardens and bioswales that collect water from the surrounding streets and trees planted in cellular modules to maximize stormwater capture capacity, beneath the park are three stormwater basins that can hold up to 71,000 gallons of water. Next the city is developing the Northwest Resiliency Park on a former brownfield site, and a private developer is building a resiliency park as part of a residential development.
Earlier this week, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that revealed that the dire impacts and threats of climate change are happening at a much quicker rate than previously thought. As a second major hurricane barrels down in the Southeast United States this season, and countless international climate disasters are in the news every week, climate change is becoming more urgent, especially for coastal cities like New York.
Replacing our concrete surfaces for more green infrastructure and natural systems is a great way to address climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation. Vegetation throughout our cities take in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as well as other air pollutants. Green roofs and street trees are also proven to reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer, reducing our demand for fossil fuel energy. In terms of adaptation, soft shorelines with layers of vegetation help block wind and wave energy, protecting communities along the coast. These green infrastructure systems are often less costly and much less resource-intensive than their grey infrastructure alternatives (such as stormwater tanks and metal bulkheads).
If recent climate change news has you thinking about ways to reduce your carbon footprint, such as using less electricity and driving less, also consider adding green infrastructure to your home and advocating in your community for more street trees and vegetated swales. If you own your home or a business, check out our green infrastructure guide for private property owners.
NYC Soil & Water Conservation District is seeking an IT consultant for a CSO public outreach project. The Request for Proposal is found here.
We believe this project is perfect for a graduate student with IT knowledge.
The project partners are Riverkeeper and the SWIM Coalition.
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