Restoring wetlands improves water quality

Work across agencies to reduce stormwater runoff issues, enhance the natural habitat and improve water quality

Years of construction at Tallman Island and Alley Creek in Queens, New York impacted the coastal area and tidal wetlands that provide flood protection for local communities. Because heavy rains produced excessive stormwater that entered and overwhelmed the sewer system, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) performed major improvements, including storm and sewer system separation and underground storage. Construction of this critical infrastructure improved water quality and impacted wetlands, affording an opportunity for ecosystem enhancement. We provided civil design services, environmental permitting, and restoration design for the improvements and wetland and habitat enhancements. To document restoration success, we provided restoration monitoring and adaptive management services over a five-year, post-construction period.

Nature-based plans improved the environment and water quality

Alley Creek’s restored tidal and freshwater wetlands provide important ecosystem functions and societal benefits. In addition to improvements to the wildlife habitat, nutrient cycling, sediment retention, floodwater attenuation and water quality, opportunities for environmental education and passive recreation were realized. The creek’s restoration included enhancement and creation of about 17 acres of tidal wetlands and about 10 acres of uplands. At Tallman Island, wetland impacts and subsequent mitigation resulted in restoration and enhancement of 0.34 acre of tidal wetlands with an additional two-acre upland restoration within nearby Powell’s Cove Park.

Steering within many agencies throughout the project was key to success

Our teams successfully navigated across multiple agencies. Construction to implement water quality improvements at the Tallman Island Water Pollution Control Plant and the Alley Creek Combined Sewer Overflow facility was implemented by NYCDEP to comply with a consent order issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). These initiatives were primarily located on property managed by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. They resulted in impacts to coastal areas and tidal wetlands that are regulated by United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) and NYSDEC. Our agency fluency allowed us to successfully provide environmental planning and permitting in relation to wetland and park restoration design.

Our broad environmental expertise brings ecological and community health to Queens

These projects restored critical wetlands and habitats, thereby enhancing the human and natural environments in Queens. Our agency relationships helped advance the work, and our robust designs created a resilient habitat. Providing communities with improved water quality and nature-based restoration aligns with our vision of building a better world by renewing lands to sustain our communities and planet.