In 2015, Sustainable Long Island (SLI), launched the “Reduce Rain Runoff” initiative, a rainwater capture and storm water management program, in order to emphasize the importance of community green infrastructure practices. Since then Sustainable Long Island has continued to be the driving force behind many of Long Island’s raingardens. SLI has worked with Landscape Ecologist Rusty Schmidt on many of these projects.
Our initial program in 2015 was made possible by funding from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) through a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Sustainable Long Island designed and installed raingardens within the City of Long Beach and East Islip High School and also implemented educational challenges within these communities.
On June 4, 2015 Sustainable Long Island worked with East Islip Green Academy students to construct a raingarden at the central courtyard within the High School. Today the raingarden continues to be maintained by the environmental club and is used as a pilot for other easily implementable green infrastructure projects. The East Islip Green Academy community challenge required each of the students to create a PowerPoint presentation that emphasized the positive impacts and benefits of green infrastructure, such as raingardens, rain barrels, green roofs, etc. in residential, educational, commercial, and public settings. The presentations needed to have an educational focus, with an end goal of informing the greater community at large about implementable water quality and mitigation strategies.
In Long Beach, Sustainable Long Island conducted a raingarden build at Sherman Brown Park. The raingarden was built with a dry creek bed, which helped to direct stormwater through the site. Over 30 volunteers and members from the City of Long Beach community members and SLI helped plant native shrubs that are resistant to salt water intrusion and wind, such as Red Chokeberry, Sea Myrtle, and Coastal Sweet Pepperbush.
In late 2015, Sustainable Long Island, in partnership with the City of Long Beach, held a “Reduce Rain Runoff” Community Challenge for students at the Long Beach Middle School. Students were tasked with creating a work of art that emphasized the benefits of green infrastructure. Artwork submissions included posters, sketches, and flow charts. Each student briefly presented their artwork and the green infrastructure concept that their artwork represented to their peers, Long Beach Middle School faculty, and the challenge judges.
The official Sustainable Long Island NYSP2I case study on the Reduce Rain Runoff initiative within Long Beach and East Islip may be found here
Later in 2015, with a generous grant provided by the Environmental Resources Management Group Foundation, Sustainable Long Island built a raingarden and implemented rain barrels at the Teatro Experimental Yerbabruja in Central Islip. At the site, SLI worked with Rusty Schmidt to design, plan, and implement the project at the Central Islip Arts Center. SLI staff and volunteers later enriched the 10′ x 25′ site with compost, planted over 90 native perennials, and constructed a trench leading to a nearby sewer.
In May of 2016, with a grant from the Environmental Resources Management Group Foundation, SLI coordinated and facilitated educational workshops for the East Islip Green Academy on May 4th, May 12th, and May 18th. Materials were secured for a raingarden restoration on May 26th, with East Islip Green Academy students, faculty, and ERM volunteers. Students and volunteers installed a walkway of porous pavers, cleaned out a drainage pipe, and refurbished areas of the raingarden with native plantings.
Later in May 2016, Sustainable Long Island led a beautification effort with 20+ NEFCU volunteers and community members from Central Islip. Together the group secured materials, coordinated, and participated in the Teatro Yerbabruja Beautification Day. Volunteers cleaned, weeded, and replanted the community garden with broccoli, beets, and radishes; cleared out accumulating debris from the raingarden planted last year; and painted and repainted murals and stages on the property.
During June of 2016, in partnership with the NEFCU Cares Crew, Sustainable Long Island led over 20 volunteers and City representatives in beautification efforts and plantings at the Cove Animal Rescue in Glen Cove. Volunteers cleaned, weeded, and planted perennials and small shrubs around the facility. The Cove Animal Rescue is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase the adoptability of homeless dogs and cats through training, socialization and improved surroundings that facilitate transition to a home environment. These beautification efforts enable current and future opportunities for environmental stewardship through educational programming and volunteer work.
The greening of Long Island continued in August of 2016 when Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union (NEFCU) and Sustainable Long Island volunteers joined forces on an environmental sustainability project at the Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson to build a rain garden, add native plantings and place a stone pathway. More than a dozen volunteers from NEFCU joined by Town of North Hempstead horticulture and sustainability staff, and government officials including Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth worked on the lush grounds of the 12-acre living museum and educational facility in Albertson. With shovels, rakes, and an assortment of tools the volunteers cleaned, weeded, and planted perennials and small shrubs around the facility. Efforts included the facilitation of a garden of native plantings, bordered with rocks reused from the digging of a trench for the garden on-site.
Increasing the awareness on the benefits of green infrastructure through the program to date has included the distribution of hundreds of “Reduce Rain Runoff” literature at Long Island schools and environmental events, educational presentations and challenges, as well as raingarden builds and native plantings. Recently, Sustainable Long Island announced it has been awarded a $7,500 grant from PSEG Long Island. PSEG’s grant will contribute to the development of a raingarden website, and it will also aid in the advancement of our educational outreach program.
Educational materials were originally developed for the “Reduce Rain Runoff” initiative through the NYSP2I grant. The development of educational materials to raise awareness on practical, easily implementable techniques to reduce rain runoff at home or in the workplace in order to improve resiliency, enhance water quality, and protect and improve the local environment plays a vital part in the continued success of the Reduce Rain Runoff initiative.
Please see below for green infrastructure educational materials:
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics derived from: Gradually Green: A Scalable Stormwater Mitigation Strategy for the City of Long Beach – a NYU Capstone Report.