The Staten Island BluebeltPresented by: Bianca Cardaci, Christina Gioeli, Kristin Lamonte, Gabriella Leone, and Stefanie Tozzi
AbstractThe Staten Island Bluebelt is a system of wetlands and waterways thatprovide storm water management, ﬂood control, and water qualityimprovement. There are currently sixteen functioning watersheds locatedalong the South Shore of the island, with three new projects currentlybeing planned in Midland Beach, South Beach, and Oakwood Beach. Inaddition, the construction and management of the Bluebelt isconsiderably inexpensive and much more sanitary in comparison toother procedures that could be done, such as implanting sewage pipes.For our project, we visited the original watershed, Richmond Creek, andtook video footage of our experience. Also, we interviewed James Rossi,the Bluebelt Field Manager, for more information about the Bluebeltsystem. As a result, the Bluebelt system has proved to be a success incontrolling local ﬂooding and providing an aesthetic atmosphere tonative Staten Islanders and wildlife.
What is the bluebelt?The Staten Island Bluebelt is a manmade storm water management systemthat can be found in about one-third of Staten Island’s land area.The Bluebelt system consists of 16 individual watersheds that cover over10,000 acres of land.Each watershed contains a variety of Best Management Practices (BMPs),which are natural drainage corridors, such as constructed wetlands, streamsand detention basins.
WatershedsA watershed is a geographic area from which water drains into a particularwaterway.Water enters the regular storm water drains and then enters the Bluebeltsystem where it is sifted through a series of streams and ponds that containit, purify it and slow it down.There are 16 separate watersheds that offer ecologically sound and cost-effective storm water management.
Best Management PracticesBMPs are engineered facilities that provide ﬂood control, water qualityimprovement and habitat preservation.Each BMP is individually designed to imitate nature and preserve allnatural processes in its surrounding area.There are now ﬁfty completed BMPs, including 22 storm water wetlandswith extended detention basins, 18 outlet stilling basins, 3 pond retroﬁts, 6stream restorations and 1 sand ﬁlter.
How does the bluebelt work? A. Restoration/Retroﬁt- A retroﬁt is the incorporation of an already existing pond or riverbed into the water management system. For example, Mill Pond was dredged to remove accumulated sediments, and extensive plantings were installed. The entire 950-acre Richmond Creek watershed ﬂows into this one-acre pond.
How Does the bluebelt work? B. Constructed Pocket Wetland- ﬁlters storm water discharge from storm sewer pipes, which drains into a tributary area.
How does the bluebelt work? C. Outlet Stilling Basin- Accepts water from the storm sewer system of a pipe and reduces its velocity. This speed reduction minimizes the danger of water erosion in sections of the stream.
How Does the Bluebelt work? D. Culvert- prevent the ﬂooding that plagues stream crossing. The main culvert, Richmond Town Bridge, marks the sport where fresh and tidal water meet.
How does the bluebelt work? E. Stream Restoration - Stream banks are stabilized with materials such as boulders and log-shaped rolls ﬁlled with coconut husk ﬁbers. To reduce velocities of water within the channel, the stream is reconstructed with a pool/rifﬂe morphology that also encourages aquatic life.
How does the bluebelt work? E. Underground Sand Filter- A concrete box that was built below ground through which storm water is directed and ﬁltered. The box contains two chambers, wet and dry. The wet chamber captures sediment and ﬂoatables. Once it’s captured, it overﬂows through the weir (dam) into the sand and gravel (dry chamber) where it is ﬁltered. Then it ﬂows from storm sewer into the outlet stilling basin and into Richmond Creek.
How does the bluebelt work? G. Extended Detention Basin- helps to manage the storm water runoff from an area of about 450 acres. The pond, half-acre in size during dry weather, expands during heavy storms and detains the peak of the storm water ﬂow. This basin is a “last resort” and is located at the end of the Bluebelt system.
Water qualitySediments ﬁltered from the water in each BMP are tested for heavy metals.RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) gives the EPA the abilityto control hazardous waste such as: silver, arsenic, barium, cadmium,chromium, mercury, lead, and selenium. The bluebelt water is below theRCRA required levels.Traces of barium were found in the storm water, which is thought to be aresult of tire wear.Although the water is ﬁltered so that it is cleaner when it exists each BMPinto Raritan Bay & the Atlantic Ocean, it is non-potable.
MaintenancePreservation of watersheds is necessary for them to perform the functions ofconveying, storing, and ﬁltering storm water.Maintenance of the Bluebelt BMPs requires controlled water ﬂow andﬁltration, aesthetic appeal, safety, and pest control.A main component of Bluebelt Maintenance is the Vactor truck. It vacuumsdebris, and uses a high-powered hose that is capable of ﬂushing cloggedpipes, cleaning structural chambers and power washing sediment-ladensurfaces.BMPs require a periodic removal of sediment every two years.
Bluebelt budgetMore than $350 million has been invested in Staten Island’s Bluebelts withmore than $220 million currently planned for the next ten years.The City of New York has purchased approximately 325 acres wetlandproperty on the South Shore for the system. Since its beginning, $300million has been invested in sewer capital projects in the South Shore’sBluebelt watersheds, along with $50 million for drainage improvements andwetland restoration work in the Bluebelt system itself.As of 2007, the city of New York has saved over $80 million as a result of theBluebelt system.
Importance of the bluebelt“Through the success of the Bluebelt program, New York City has adoptedthis approach in their Plan NYC 2030 as a means of improving climatic,infrastructural and demographic challenges in the future.” -NYWEAPresident Bruce G. MunnThe faster Staten Island urbanizes, the greater the need for the Bluebelt is.Steets and rooftops increase the rate, velocity and volume of surface waterrunoff, meaning there is more water gathering and less places for it to go.Watersheds temporarily store the ﬂood waters, while wetlands help protectadjacent and downstream property owners from ﬂood damage.
Success of the bluebeltIn 2004, Hurrican Ivan passed through the region without disrupting theBluebelt system; this is a testament to its success.It would take a “Hundred-Year” storm to overwhelm the Bluebelt, meaninga storm that generates 10 inches of rain and has a 1% chance of happeningevery 100 years.“[The construction of the Bluebelt is] Basically building something to mimicMother Nature, and that’s what happening. So, that tells us it’ssuccessful...that what we’re trying to do is actually happening.”- JamesRossi, Bluebelt Field ManagerThe Bluebelt encourages biodiversity because it simulates nature andprovides habitats for indigenous species, such as ﬁsh.
Success of the Bluebelt Before AfterSouth Richmond intersection
Future BluebeltsThe DEP is projected to install three new Watersheds in Midland Beach,South Beach and then Oakwood Beach.The Midland Beach Watershed (AKA New Creek) is projected to cost $37.5million, and has a projected savings of $39 million in comparison of puttingsewers in for the same area.On the Northern Shore of Staten Island, there is plan to reconstructwetlands in Snug Harbor.There are also expansion plans for Queens and the Bronx.
WOrk cited"Clear Waters Magazine Honors DEP’s Staten Island Bluebelt Program." 25 Jan.2010. http://home2.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/press_releases/10-08pr.shtmlRossi, James, and James Garin. "Successful Maintenance of Green Infrastructurefor Stormwater Management: Staten Island Bluebelt." Hazen and SawyerEnvironmental Engineers & Scientists. 2009. http://www.hazenandsawyer.com/publications/successful-maintenance-of-green-infrastructure-for-stormwater-management/.Gumb, Dana, and Sandeep Mehrotra. "Staten Island Bluebelt Program: A NaturalSolution to Environmental Problems." May-June 2001. http://home2.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/press_releases/10-08pr.shtml http://www.asla.org/lamag/lam05/november/ecology.htmlRossi, James, Dana Gumb, Sandeep Mehrotra, Deeya Deb, and Brian Henn. TheStaten Island Bluebelt : A Case Study in Urban Stormwater Management. Rep.NOVATECH, 2007. Print.
InterviewThe following is the transcription of our interview with the Field Manager of theBluebelt, James Rossi:Is the Bluebelt System connected?No, each watershed stands alone. All Bluebelt watersheds ﬂow into Rariton Bayand then the Atlantic Ocean, that’s why they want to distill and clean out thewater so it’s fresh and puriﬁed when emptied into the ocean.How much water would overﬂow the system?Only a 100-year storm, which only has a 1% chance of happening, would overﬂowthe system. In this storm, 10 inches of rain would have roaring streams and someresidual ﬂooding.
InterviewWhat do they test the water for; is it potable?Sediments are being sampled for any drop out heavy metals—RCRA or ResourceRecovery Act metals, which are thresholds for what is considered toxic dangers.Luckily, the Bluebelt sediments are far below this level. However, the water is notpotable.What form of maintenance is required for the Bluebelt system?There is a small group of biologists supported by a larger group of contractors. Weuse a vactor or eductor truck to remove excess sediments form the area. Vegetationmust also be managed due to succession. This costs the city $700,000 every twoyears, which is signiﬁcantly less than sewer structure upkeep.What spurred the creation of the Bluebelt?There was not particular storm that spurred Bluebelt development. Pipes systemshave limited capacity, but the Bluebelt introduces an open system and has a ﬁve-bank ﬂow. It is cost efﬁcient and signiﬁcantly saves the city money.
InterviewIs there a different approach to the newer watersheds being constructed?Yes, we must take a different approach to the Midland beach Bluebelt because there is at low elevationand high tide. We don’t want any problems with the 100-year storms. There is a lot of engineeringinvolved in this process.What is the function of a mill race?The current mill race is not very useful to the Bluebelt system. There isn’t enough waterpower to fuelthe wheel. In order for the mill race to function, some form of a electric motor would probably beinstalled.Are any species introduced to the surrounding Bluebelt area?No, we have not introduced any species, but ﬁsh have found their way into many of our watersheds. Itis almost like, “If you build it, they will come.” Fish eggs can get on a duck’s feet and travel intotributary waters that ﬂow into the wetlands.Have you encountered any malfunctions in this system?There have been several failures, like any new project. For example, we have overplanted in some of theareas, but the success deﬁnitely outweighs the downfalls.
InterviewAudio of the James Rossi (Field Manager of the Bluebelt) interview:Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFUNlwk3Ad4Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iirB6T3Yf9MPart 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdf9L0llkvk
Richmond Creek Watershed TourThese are the photos taken while on our walking tour of the Richmond Creek Watershed. Double click the image to play.
RiChmond Creek Watershed tourThis is the video footage of our Richmond Creek Walking tour. Toview the video, use this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3UAdzpQCs4&feature=player_embedded
DEP Bluebelt VideoTo view the DEP’s Staten Island Bluebelt video, use this link:h t t p : / / w w w. n y c . g o v / h t m l / d e p / h t m l / d e p _ p ro j e c t s /bluebelt_video.shtml
TimelineThis link leads to a timeline of our groups progress with theBluebelt project from it’s start to the ﬁnal presentation at theMacaulay building: http://www.dipity.com/cgioeli91/The-Staten-Island-Bluebelt/