Sheldon Avenue Stormwater Project Earns Envision Silver Award

Once completed, the BMP (similar to the one pictured here) will alleviate flooding and have a significant positive impact on wildlife by improving habitat conditions.

A rendering of the Sheldon Avenue project, currently under construction. It is the largest expansion to date for the Staten Island Bluebelt.

A sample photo of the site before construction commenced.

BMPs, such as those in the Blue Heron Watershed, provide a natural drainage corridor to convey stormwater runoff. They also remove pollutants and promote terrestrial and aquatic life.

Similar work in the Lemon Creek Watershed restored the functionality of the existing basin and at the same time provided water quality improvement, aesthetic enhancement, and community benefits.

(NEW YORK, NY – January 27, 2017) – New York City’s Sheldon Avenue stormwater management project on Staten Island, executed by the Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), is the recipient of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision Silver sustainable infrastructure award. The ISI Envision rating system rates sustainable infrastructure across the full range of environmental, social, and economic impacts.

This project is the NYCDDC’s first to earn an Envision award for sustainability, and the second Envision project awarded in the city overall.

Currently in construction, the Sheldon Avenue project involves the creation of a natural wetland to more effectively and sustainably manage and filter stormwater captured from the local community. Additionally, sanitary sewers will be installed to allow almost 600 local homeowners to be taken off septic systems, improving water quality, increasing home values, and eliminating the headaches for homeowners associated with managing these systems. This project is the largest expansion to date of the Staten Island Bluebelt, an award-winning, ecologically sound and cost-effective stormwater program created in response to frequent flooding on the island during rain events that were caused by a lack of sufficient stormwater drainage.

Key organizations involved in the planning, design, and construction of the project include NYCDDC, which is responsible for both the in-house design of the storm and sanitary sewers as well as construction management; NYCDEP, the client agency; Hazen and Sawyer, which is responsible for the design of the stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) wetland; and Arcadis, which provided construction oversight services.

Created in 2012 through the collaboration between ISI and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Envision system rates the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole. The ISI Envision system measures sustainability in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community.

The Sheldon Avenue project earned high scores in the Climate and Risk, Natural World, and Leadership Envision categories.

Key sustainable accomplishments include:

Climate and Risk: The original concept called for an all-pipe network for managing stormwater on Staten Island, which would have destroyed existing wetlands. The Bluebelt program, and by extension the Sheldon Avenue project, instead aims to use existing drainage corridors and wetlands as a natural conveyance for stormwater that requires no energy and less water treatment. Wetland restoration is another key component of the project. A badly degraded wetland, overrun with non-native and invasive species, will be restored, which is important as wetlands play a vital role in reducing the effects of global warming by absorbing carbon, thereby mitigating the long-term consequences of climate change and helping to make the community more resilient under altered climate conditions.

Natural World: The project team undertook a comprehensive assessment of potential risks and impacts to existing wetlands, and took steps to mitigate and avoid impacts to the extent possible. Also, the replacement of an existing manmade stormwater pond with stormwater best management practices such as wetlands was included as part of this project, and is expected to have a significant positive impact on wildlife by improving habitat conditions.

In designing the project, the project team took care to avoid impacting the ground water by installing pipes at a maximum depth of 12 feet below the surface, more than 45 feet above the groundwater levels. Additionally, silt fences and other sediment control measures will be installed during construction to prevent runoff into nearby water features.

Leadership: New York City has demonstrated a significant commitment to sustainability from the Mayor’s office through to its many agencies and offices, including the NYCDEP—the city’s agency that manages its water supply, and NYCDDC—the city’s agency responsible for the construction of civic facilities, including the Sheldon Avenue project. Both agencies have made strong commitments to designing projects that adhere to the principles of sustainability, and both also have many in-house Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV SPs)—professionals trained in the use of the Envision sustainable infrastructure planning and design framework.

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