Program Lead: Jason Camhi //

What’s the problem? Urban runoff is one of the world’s leading sources of ocean pollution. In many cities storm drains funnel into the rivers and ocean un-treated, polluting our water with motor oil and many other contaminants during heavy rain. Click here for more info about the causes of pollution.

New York City is different because we have a Combined Sewer System (CSS), with rainwater joining other home/business wastewater and being treated at sewage treatment plants. While that sounds great the problem is with a very small amount of rain (as small as 1/20th of an inch) the CSS can be easily overwhelmed and the combination of rain water and home/business wastewater – including raw sewage – overflows and discharges directly into our waterways. Click here for more info about NYC’s CSS and Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs).

The solution – home, business and public properties can all help prevent this runoff/overflow by turning their space into an Ocean Friendly Garden. OFG gardeners apply “CPR:”

Sign for an OFG describing Conservation, Permeability, and Retention

C – Conservation – Conserve water, energy and wildlife habitat by using native and climate appropriate plants, and nutrients with properly spaced native & climate appropriate plants.

P – Permeability – Allow air and water to percolate downwards. Healthy soil, mulch, and limited hardscape sponge up water.

R – Retention – Retain water in the ground, not in the streets. Direct rain gutters into low areas in the yard & create curb cuts to capture street flow.

In NYC’s “concrete jungle” one way to help is to turn already existing garden areas into parkway bioswales. In 2014 and 2015 Surfrider NYC volunteers helped to create over 1200’ sq. of ocean friendly bioswales on Catherine Slip and Allen Street, and we look to do even more in 2016 and beyond.