NEW YORK — The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for three separate engineering and design services contracts to create green infrastructure master plans within three combined sewer watershed areas: Gowanus Canal, Flushing Bay, and Newtown Creek. The selected consultant or consultants will be required to design cost-effective green infrastructure projects on the streets and sidewalks and city-owned buildings in these areas. The total value of the three contracts is $12 million.

Among the projects to be built are bioswales, blue and green roofs, rain gardens, and porous pavement, all of which can reduce combined sewer overflows and ultimately improve harbor water quality. During storms, parts of New York City’s combined sewer system often reach capacity, and must discharge a mix of stormwater and wastewater — combined sewer overflow (CSO) — into the city’s surrounding waterways. DEP estimates that by this summer, the selected consultants will begin the process of identifying bioswale locations and producing designs for public building retrofits. Consultants will work with DEP to finalize the designs, produce construction documents, and provide design services through construction.

“Implementing the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan will improve water quality throughout New York Harbor and our neighborhoods,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland. “As soon as the plan was launched by Mayor Bloomberg in late 2010, we laid the foundation to put the plan into action. That has meant completing several pilot projects to assess technology, launching the inter-agency Green Infrastructure Task Force to identify areas of opportunities and to develop key partnerships such as the Greenstreets program, starting our land use and water quality modeling, developing standard bioswale designs, and working with the state to include the plan in existing consent orders. This RFP represents the next phase of building green infrastructure in our sidewalks, streets and city-owned buildings at significant scale, and is the most significant step to date to saturate the Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek and Flushing Bay drainage areas with green infrastructure.”

“I am enthusiastic about green infrastructure as one important step in our effort to improve water quality in the Gowanus Canal. This is a great opportunity for DEP and community stakeholders to work closely together to implement real sustainable solutions,” said Councilmember Brad Lander.

The selected consultants for the three contracts will evaluate each specific location and design green infrastructure such as infiltration or retention system to reduce runoff from impervious surfaces during the wet weather. The goal for these green infrastructure projects is to manage at least 1 inch of rain on 10 percent of impervious surfaces within the combined sewer areas. The design process may require expertise in plumbing retrofits, landscaping, and/or roofing. The three year contracts will require services from design to project completion. After proposals are submitted on March 19, 2012, in response to the RFP, DEP expects to award the contracts by the summer, with design work to start immediately. Construction will begin in a year or so.

The three contracts will cover the following areas:
• Contract Area #1: Gowanus Canal and part of Newtown Creek (approximately 775 acres): The total cost of this design contract is $4,000,000.
• Contract Area #2: Flushing Bay (approximately 1,000 acres): The cost of this design contract is $5,500,000.
• Contract Area #3: Flushing Bay (approximately 450 acres): The cost of this design contract is $2,500,000.

DEP is also working with other city agencies, including the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Design and Construction, to develop area-wide plans in several other priority CSO tributary areas and then to build green infrastructure. These partnerships will further support the city’s efforts to manage stormwater at the source and help build green infrastructure projects to reduce CSOs for a cleaner New York harbor.

New York City, like other older urban centers, is largely serviced by a combined sewer system where stormwater and wastewater are carried through a single pipe. To address the challenge of combined sewer overflows over the long term, in September 2010 Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan. The plan estimated that a combination of $2.4 billion in public and private green infrastructure, cost-effective grey infrastructure, and other program elements would reduce sewer overflows by 40 percent by 2030. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other structural elements to absorb and evaporate water and to mimic natural areas and hydrologic cycles. The State Department of Environmental Conservation and DEP have already reached a draft agreement to modify the existing CSO Consent Order so that DEP can move forward with the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan.