Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that his office is providing $215,000 to The New York Botanical Garden to support the Garden’s use of “green infrastructure” to eliminate water pollution discharges to the Bronx River. This funding, which will allow the Garden to replace a paved parking area with a “porous” one that reduces storm water runoff, adds to the almost $650,000 in project funding that the Attorney General’s office has invested in the program through its Bronx River Watershed Initiative.
Green infrastructure – natural systems, like wetlands, or engineered systems, like porous pavement, that mimic them – captures, stores, and treats storm water that would otherwise run off the Garden’s property, carrying with it pesticides, fertilizers, and other pollutants into the adjacent waterbodies. Because green infrastructure relies on more natural systems, it can be more cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly than wastewater treatment plants and other traditional infrastructure.
“Now more than ever, local leadership is crucial to ensuring the protection and improvement of our environment,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The New York Botanical Garden is leading efforts to reclaim the Bronx River through environmentally-friendly approaches to eliminating water pollution. I am proud to support the Botanical Garden’s work and, through our Bronx River Watershed Initiative, join local efforts throughout the Bronx and Westchester County focused on bringing new life to the Bronx River.”
“We are grateful to the Attorney General’s office for again recognizing The New York Botanical Garden’s efforts to improve water quality and on-site detention, and to reduce stormwater runoff into the Bronx River,” said Gregory Long, Chief Executive Officer and The William C. Steere Sr. President of NYBG. “The investment in this green infrastructure project will help us continue to serve as proud stewards of this 250-acre urban oasis. We thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff for their support of our mission to preserve NYBG’s National Historic Landmark landscape and our shared environment so that our neighbors and visitors may benefit from this natural resource for generations to come.”
The Bronx River flows for roughly 23 miles through southern Westchester and Bronx and has a long history of pollution. While considerable progress has been made in recent years toward reclaiming the river, these efforts are still hampered by a number of lingering problems, including poor water quality. A principal cause of the Bronx River’s water quality problems is storm water runoff – rainwater and snowmelt that flows over impervious surfaces and into waters, picking up raw sewage, litter, gas and oil, pesticides, fertilizers and other harmful pollutants along its path.
Through its “Sustainability and Climate Change Program,” the New York Botanical Garden has been actively revising its design, construction, and maintenance practices to address pressing environmental issues, including water pollution. To this end, the Garden is incorporating green infrastructure improvements into the planning, design, and construction of all new or renovated projects throughout its 250 acres in order to reduce the volume of, and improve the quality of the remaining, stormwater runoff entering into the Bronx River.
The $215,000 in project funding being announced today adds to the almost $650,o00 in support previously provided by the Attorney General’s office from its Bronx River Watershed Initiative to projects central to the Garden’s Sustainability and Climate Change Program. In these projects, a variety of green infrastructure approaches have been used to capture, store, and treat polluted stormwater from the Garden’s historic Stone Mill area and Horticulture Operations Center. In total, the Attorney General’s Bronx River Watershed Initiative has invested about $865,000 in the Garden’s clean water program.
The Garden’s Sustainability and Climate Change Program provides a model for how institutions, local governments, businesses, and private landowners in the Bronx River watershed can use green infrastructure to reduce water pollution. Its public education and outreach efforts, which call attention to these green infrastructure practices, also serve as a model for advancing efforts to protect and improve water quality. NYBG’s ability to educate the public is substantial, as it draws over one million visitors per year from a local, national, and international audience.
The funding provided to The New York Botanical Garden is a portion of the monies obtained by the Attorney General’s Office through its Bronx River Watershed Initiative. That initiative yielded settlements with the Yonkers Raceway Corporation, the City of Yonkers, the City of White Plains, the Village of Scarsdale, the City of Mt. Vernon and the Town of Greenburgh, all of which were polluting the river with untreated sanitary sewage discharges from their stormwater sewers.
All told, the Bronx River Watershed Initiative has dedicated more than $6.4 million to support local efforts in Bronx and Westchester Counties focused on restoring water quality in the waterway by controlling storm runoff and snow melt. With matching funds, the initiative is bringing over $15.2 million through 21 local entities for 32 projects that combat principal causes of the Bronx River’s continuing water quality problems. With the funding announced today, all of the Initiative’s funds have now been allocated.
This matter was handled by Environmental Scientist Joseph Haas and former Assistant Attorney General Isaac Cheng of the Environmental Protection Bureau, which is led by Lemuel M. Srolovic and is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.