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Green Infrastructure Bioswales Arrive on Third and Fourth Avenues

The installations will work to tackle the borough's sewer overflow problem.

The announced Monday the installation of seven new bioswales along Third and Fourth avenues in Brooklyn.

The bioswales are part of a much larger city initiative to tackle CSO's, combined sewer overflows. When it rains, a mix of sewage and stormwater run-off infiltrates the local rivers and canals, creating a dangerous health hazard.

Bioswales soak up storm water overspill, thus sending less water into the sewers, and decreasing the chance of sewer overflow running into surrounding bodies of water.

The swales, similar to sidewalk tree pits but larger, intercept flowing water by absorbing it.

The bioswales, installed by the DEP, are located at Dean Street and Fourth Avenue, Third Street and Third Avenue and First Street and Fourth Avenue. The intention is to keep sewage from running into the already heavily polluted Gowanus Canal.

"The Gowanus Canal watershed is a priority area," said Margot Walker, Director of Green Infrastructure Partnerships at a Community Board 6 committee meeting Monday.

Walker said these bioswales are the first of thousands that will be installed all over the city in the next ten years. Walker also said the bioswales will not impact any current parking spots along the avenues.

These particular bioswales are being installed as part of the Department of Transportation's Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming capital project.

The fresh flower beds offer more than just a practical solution to sewage overflow, they also help to beautify Fourth and Third avenues. 

"I have been out here for the past year and Fourth Avenue is more beautiful," said a woman who was standing near a bioswale on Dean Street but said she had to speak anonymously due to job restrictions. "This street used to be incredibly dirty, but these flowers are making it look good."  

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