Save the Swales
Guerilla gardening, hopping fences to explore a secret beach, building New York's first micro swale...just an average Sunday in the city with Loomstate. Well, sort of. We partnered with friends at Lower East Side Ecology Center on an urban "Runoff Walk" in the Financial District - part of our NY Urban Field Guide class series. We talked about New York's sewage treatment system, the effect of urban runoff on the ecology of our waterways, traced the footprint of a natural stream that now runs under pavement and office buildings, and we learned how to personally protect our waterways.
On a tour of New York's largest sewage treatment plant last year, we learned that our city has a combined sewer system, meaning that when it rains (for even just 15 minutes) the treatment plants reach capacity and must dump raw sewage into the rivers! Dilution is the solution, right? Not quite. Since we care about our local waterways (and surf year-round in New York) this bit of information irked us. After some research, we found that creating more permeable surfaces in Manhattan can divert the rainwater that is causing this overflow. So, with LES Ecology Center and some like-minded friends we constructed a micro swale, a low-lying plot of land engineered to manage water runoff, filter pollutants and divert runoff from the sewage plants. Join our campaign - SAVE THE SWALES!