Brooklyn Update: Green and Grey Infrastructure Plus Lots of NYC Fun and Culture

What have we been up to for the past 48 hours or so?

Thursday morning started with a bit of serendipity as we awoke to rumbles of thunder and some heavy rain, a perfect start to a day focused on NYC’s water infrastructure. Where does all of that rainfall go? Let’s find out.

Skies had cleared by the time we hopped off the G train in Carroll Gardens for a short walk over to the head of the Gowanus Canal for a walking tour of “green infrastructure” led by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC). We learned about the different types of rain gardens the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) has installed along with partners like the GCC to mitigate stormwater runoff and CSO (combined sewer overflow) into the already heavily polluted Gowanus Canal. Lots of details and nuances inform these installations and there were several examples of missed opportunities and flawed designs to learn from as well.

We then hopped on the subway to visit another Superfund site, Newtown Creek and the city’s wastewater treatment facility there. This is an impressive example of modern “grey” infrastructure, particularly the bio-digesters, which capture enough methane to power the entire operation.

Our Thursday concluded with a class NYC experience – a broadway show. The Play That Goes Wrong delivered lots of laughs.

Friday morning we began to focus on our design challenge with a half-day workshop From Watershed to Sewershed: Challenges and Opportunities to Water Quality in New York City by Pratt Professor Marcel Negret. Much of the workshop examined the methodology used to design a green infrastructure plan to reduce storm water runoff. Spreadsheets and calculations and technical terms like coefficient of permeability were on order. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so we had a nice long period of “unstructured” time in the afternoon and then headed out for some Friday night festivities to either DUMBO and a concert in Brooklyn Bridge Park or to the West Village with a stop at the Center for Architectures’ exhibit on zero waste.

The group is currently in Williamsburg at the infamous Smorgasburg food market and squeezed in a morning trip to the Highline prior to that before the temps really begin to soar here. We are making some adjustments to the weekend calendar to account for the impending heat wave.

Have a lovely weekend wherever you are!