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Lower East Side Ecology Center Awarded $1 Million For East River Park Wetland

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les ecology center wetland

The Lower East Side Ecology received word this week that it’s been awarded a $1 million grant from the state of New York to create an artificial wetland in East River Park.

As you may know, the non-profit organization runs a large compost operation. A by-product of the composting process is a nitrogen-rich wastewater called leachate, which is harmful to most plants. The wetland will be located at the Ecology Center’s compost facility, which is situated just south of the East River Park amphitheater.  According to an explanation on the center’s website, “The wetland (will) clean the leachate by running it through a series of physical and botanical filters, such as specially-sized gravel and nitrogen-fixing plants and then put it to work growing plants and creating habitats for butterflies, insects, amphibians, and birds.”

In an interview yesterday, Christine Datz-Romero, the ecology center’s executive director, said the wetland will “create a permeable infrastructure” during normal weather events such as rain and snow storms but will also offer the neighborhood protection from future hurricanes. The area along the river, of course, sustained heavy flooding during Hurricane Sandy two years ago. The half acre site will also create an educational opportunity. The project is expected to be a model for sustainable waste management in New York City.

Datz-Romero said the next step will be reaching out to engage the Lower East Side community regarding the design of the wetland. Construction is expected to begin late next year.

As previously reported, the LES Ecology Center recently expanded its compost program in the neighborhood. You can red more details about that here.

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  1. So their compost facility is the source of the horrible smell along the riverfront path south of the Amphitheater? I thought compost wasn’t supposed to smell bad; that area smells seriously nasty.

  2. Composting is not supposed to smell bad. If it does, that means there is not enough oxygen present (the mixture needs aerating), or the nitrogen to carbon ratio is off (most food scraps are nitrogen rich, while leaves are carbon rich). It is supposed to smell earthy, but too much nitrogen in the mixture will make it smell bad.

  3. Agree. That area smells like a pig farm. Let’s be real about this. It stinks and it supposed to. It’s “natural”. Swamps, I mean “wetlands”, stink also. Whether it’s not supposed to or should only stink a little……it’s run by the Ecology Center. This would never, ever happen on the West Side. Unfortunately these ecology type groups get little resistance in poorer neighborhoods. And it’s hard to go against these type of resiliency projects in today’s atmosphere.

  4. Um, you are aware that the city is in the process of completing a parking and maintenance facility for 150 garbage trucks at Spring and West Streets, right? Those trucks and their hopper juice trails are a lot stinkier than the compost piles at Corlear’s Hook.

  5. The LES is a dumping ground for so many things – bars, Chinatown buses, hotels- so it makes perfect sense that it would also be a floating garbage dump

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