Bioswale Stewardship

RAIN Coalition

As NYC experiences more frequent extreme weather events like Hurricanes Henri and Ida, the need for green infrastructure (GI) is more imperative than ever to mitigate hazardous flooding and combined sewage overflow, among other climate change impacts.

In response to that need, three NYC-based watershed organizations came together in June 2021 with a workforce development organization to pilot a new way of ensuring success for rain gardens throughout NYC, especially in lower income, outer borough neighborhoods.

The Rain Garden Action In Neighborhoods (RAIN) Coalition is made up by Bronx River Alliance (BxRA), Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC), The HOPE Program (HOPE), and Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) to represent watershed communities impacted by multiple environmental injustices including exposure to CSO, flooding, high poverty, extreme heat, and lack of accessible green space. Each of these watersheds has an established stewardship organization poised to build long-term capacity for local GI management, provide local green-collar jobs, and catalyze a citywide network. 

Through this project, the RAIN Coalition will be able to test and identify best practices for local rain garden stewardship, determine the ideal staffing model for the GI assets in their area, and build internal capacity for increased hiring. Leveraging the partners’ workforce development expertise and deep community knowledge will ensure that jobs are sustainable and targeted for the communities who need them most. 

Together, we are united in exploring a new model of rain garden stewardship that is rooted in local neighborhoods and watersheds, connected to robust community education and volunteerism, and grounded in a workforce development effort to offer training and jobs to residents in affected communities. 

Gowanus Canal Conservancy is proud to be a founding member of RAIN and looks forward to sharing our lessons learned with public agencies, elected officials, and other stakeholders in a resilient and just future for NYC. In other words, all of us!

Bioswale Stewardship

Gowanus Canal Conservancy builds and stewards green infrastructure in the Gowanus Watershed, a 1,700 acre area that contributes to 377 million gallons of combined sewer overflow (CSO) into the Gowanus Canal per year. Installations like the 6th Street Green Corridor, a set of 11 bioswales completed in 2014 that we maintain and monitor with partners, reduce CSO while providing much needed greenery. With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the US Forest Service, Gowanus Canal Conservancy and partners piloted a Bioswale Stewardship Training Program from 2014-2017 to engage volunteers and students in the management and advocacy for green infrastructure in the Gowanus Watershed. One outcome of this pilot is a bioswale stewardship manual, Bioswales in New York City: Understanding, Advocating, Stewarding, a resource that we use in our training programs that is also available for download.

Partners and Sponsors

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez
eDesign Dynamics
Drexel University
Perfetto Contracting Co.
Trees NY
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
NYC Deparment of Environmental Protection (DEP)
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR)
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
US Forest Service