West Park Avenue will soon contain eight different models of bioswales as part of a research project headed by the Urban Resources Initiative and Yale scientists.
A bioswale is a system used to remove silt and pollution from runoff water and takes the appearance of a small well. The research, funded by a $150,000 grant from the Long Island Sound Study, will help the city decide which design would be best to use in an large-scale project to incorporate bioswales into the entire city landscape. The research project will be completed by July, and the city will use its $2.5 million Community Development Block Grant to build the city’s bioswales in the next two to three years, Mayor Toni Harp said in an email to the News.
“New Haven’s plan to install hundreds of bioswales will meet two goals,” Harp said. “Bioswales reduce the overall amount of stormwater runoff and also filter the water, so that which drains into local streams and rivers — and the Long Island Sound — is cleaner.”
In addition to the eight bioswales on West Park Avenue in the Edgewood neighborhood, the city plans to build 200 additional bioswales in downtown New Haven and along Howard Avenue.
Colleen Murphy-Dunning, director of the URI, said Yale students from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies have been employed to visualize optimal locations for the bioswales. The model will be easy to replicate in the city’s large-scale project.
She added that City Engineer Giovanni Zinn ’05 frequently meets with the URI to review designs and identify critical areas where bioswales might be needed.
Ross Bernet FES ’15 said he and his colleague Uma Bhandaram FES ’15 are using a Geographic Information System to visualize optimal locations for the bioswales, considering information about locations of current storm drains and building owners.
Chris Ozyck, the on-site director of the West Park Avenue project and associate director of the URI, said the city hopes to eventually see one bioswale per storm drain. He added that the addition of the systems will be an economically and ecologically efficient way for the city to drain and filter water, which will in turn reduce pollution in local rivers and the Long Island Sound.
The West Park Avenue research project is a joint effort run by the URI, Common Ground High School, Emerge Connecticut and the city’s Engineering Department. Those working on the project include Common Ground High School students — who will assist with research and plant flowers around the bioswales — as well as participants of Emerge, a New Haven-based transitional work program.
“I think that this is a great learning opportunity for the men from Emerge, students, researchers and Common Ground,” said Murphy-Dunning. “It’s a chance for us to all partner together and learn something.”
Emerge participants working on the project said that they have enjoyed learning about designing the bioswales despite the intensive manual labor.
Tyler French, who has been working on the site for four weeks, said that installing the large filtration device is an arduous task due to the precision necessary in leveling the ground prior to installation. Another employee, Antjuan Martin, said that building the stone walls to ensure each system’s stability has been challenging.
Before the unveiling of the bioswales in July, Common Ground High School students will have the opportunity to conduct their own research project, according to Murphy-Dunning. She said the students will analyze the amount of stormwater coming off of each property on West Park Avenue.
The Long Island Sound Study is a bi-state partnership consisting of federal and state agencies, user groups, concerned organizations and individuals dedicated to restoring and protecting the sound.