Greenpoint Gazette

Workshop Series to Tackle Stormwater Overflow


A new series of environmental workshops aspires to get North Brooklyn businesses to take on a greater role in water conservation and invest in green infrastructure in the neighborhood.

Grey to Green is a partnership between the Newtown Creek Alliance and the Open Sewer Atlas NYC – a community-planning project aimed at created greater transparency in the city’s sewers through data analysis, community workshops, and the creation of dynamic maps charting the entire sewer system.

The workshops, which will take place on a weekly basis in September, also aims to raise awareness about combined sewage overflow (CSO).

Over 70 percent of the city has a combined sewer system, in which stormwater and sanitary wastewater are taken to the same wastewater treatment plant.

During storms or torrential rains, this system is unable to handle the capacity of water, and as a result the storm water runoff is diverted to the nearest body of water through a combined sewer overflow.

A large chunk drains into Newtown Creek – 570 million gallons of CSO discharge a year to be specific. Apart from flooding this can cause all sorts of problems, particularly for a body of water as polluted as Newtown Creek. CSOs like the one in Newtown Creek can cause aquatic dead zones – where there is limited fresh water dilution, low circulation, and no means to sustain aquatic life.

The first workshop to be held September 1 at the Williamsburg Charter High School will be a general primer on CSOs and is intended to educate North Brooklynites on steps they can take to mitigate this concern – not taking showers during a rainstorm, not washing dishes, and if you can stomach it, not flushing your toilet – all of which would lessen CSOs.

The second workshop will be more of an appeal to local manufacturers and producers who own larger buildings in the neighborhood, or larger residential complexes, to undertake green infrastructure projects such as using the city’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program to build rain gardens, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting equipment.

And the final workshop is for small-scale projects all North Brooklynites can pursue such as constructing rain barrels and planters.

“We really want to target property owners because we already know there are several environmental groups in the neighborhood that are very active,” said Korin Tangtrakul, who is spearheading the grey to green series for Open Sewer Atlas NYC. “We wanted to ensure our workshops were action based, We want to get to people to act and see real results, but we also want to ensure that there are options for everybody to their part in water conservation.

Grey to Green Workshops:

 Workshop 1: CSO 101, Sept. 1, Williamsburg Charter High School, 5:30 p.m., 198 Varet Street

 Workshop 2: Green Infrastructure Grants, Sept. 8, 5 p.m., Silent Barn, 603 Bushwick Avenue

 Workshop 3: Build Your Own Downspout Planter, Sept. 20, 10 a.m., Boerum Hill Joinery, 1831 Starr St.

 For detailed info on each visit

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