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.