In June, a proposal to strengthen Long Island’s waterways, starting with Mill River in Rockville Centre, was awarded millions of dollars in federal funding.
The project, called Living with the Bay, was one of many proposals that were part of the Rebuild by Design challenge. Living with the Bay, the brainchild of a collaboration of American and Dutch design firms known as the Interboro Team, was granted $125 million. And the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has just turned that money over to New York state, paving the way for work to begin.
The state now has 120 days to come up with an “action plan,” a document that will explain to HUD how Living with the Bay will spend the money.
The project is ambitious in its scope, combining numerous smaller projects with the overarching purpose of creating a storm-resilient shoreline. The project would turn Mill River — which flows through Rockville Centre, East Rockaway and Oceanside — into a “green-blue” corridor that would store and filter water, provide public space and create room for new development.
Sluice gates, installed along the river, would close when tides rose to help prevent storm surges from flowing upstream. “Bioswales” would be built along streets and waterways.
“It’s a little channel on the side of a street that, when it rains, … can take some of the storm water and hold it on the side of the road in a grassy swale,” explained Daniel D’Oca, one of the principles of Interboro. “They divert water so it’s not going into the storm drains and the rivers. You can engineer it so it also recharges into the groundwater” — a huge challenge, he said, on extensively paved Long Island.
D’Oca said that bioswales would help filter the runoff from storms, which now flows directly from streets into sewers and then out into the bay — carrying all of the pollution that it picks up along the way.
Work on the Living with the Bay project will start once the state receives official approval from the federal government.