Connect with us


Upgrading Drainage Across The City, The Department of Environmental Protection and Trust for Public



April 17, 2024

New Green Infrastructure Playgrounds in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens Will Absorb More Than 3.5 Million Gallons of Stormwater Annually, Helping to Reduce Neighborhood Flooding, while also Improving the Health of the East River

Before and After Photos of Similar Playgrounds are Available here

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced that construction has begun on five new Green Infrastructure playgrounds at schools in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Once completed later this year, the new playgrounds will absorb more than 3.5 million gallons of stormwater annually, eliminating runoff that can flood nearby streets, overwhelm neighborhood sewer systems, and allow untreated water to pollute the East River.

“Climate change is bringing with it rainstorms that can overwhelm our sewers and cause flooding across the five boroughs, which is why we have more than doubled our budget for drainage upgrades, including these terrific Green Infrastructure playgrounds,” said New York City Chief Climate Officer and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Thank you to our partners at The Trust for Public Land and to all the students that have helped to design their new playgrounds.” 

“Access to green space is critical for the mental and physical well-being of all New Yorkers, and these new community spaces are a key part of our work to close the park equity gap as well as increase climate resiliency,” said Mary Alice Lee, NYC Playgrounds Program Director for Trust for Public Land. “Trust for Public Land is thrilled to continue to partner with DEP to help students and families design quality outdoor spaces to learn and play in.”

Students from each school help to design their individual schoolyard space to include not only green infrastructure but to create a space for the entire community to benefit from. The playgrounds can include a turf field, running track, play equipment, garden space, and an outdoor classroom, among several options. The schoolyards will also give quality park access to tens of thousands of residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the schools.

The five schools where the new Green Infrastructure playgrounds are being installed are:

  • I.S. 145 Joseph Pulitzer in Jackson Heights, Queens
    Annual stormwater managed: 640,000 gallons/year.
  • P.S. 229 in Woodside, Queens
    Annual stormwater managed: 440,000 gallons/year
  • Orchard Collegiate Academy/University Neighborhood Middle School M332 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
    Annual stormwater managed: 476,000 gallons/year
  • M.S. 35 Stephen Decatur in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
    Annual stormwater managed: 600,000 gallons/year
  • P.S. 306/The Bronx School of Young Leaders in Morris Heights, Bronx
    Annual stormwater managed: 1,030,000 gallons/year

“Parks and playgrounds aren’t just for recreation, they also protect our communities against extreme weather and climate change,” said City Council Member Shekar Krishna. “I’m proud to have funded the construction of one of five new Green Infrastructure playgrounds in New York City — here at I.S. 145 in Jackson Heights — in partnership with DEP and the Trust for Public Land. As Chair of the City Council’s Parks Committee, I’m excited to build more green infrastructure across our neighborhood and the entire city.”

“As climate change continues to bring new challenges to our neighborhoods, I am glad to see DEP rising to the task,” said City Council Member Chi Osse. “That this plan was carried out with input from community members and students shows a meaningful level of respect and care, and we welcome investment in historically-underserved areas. I look forward to continued partnership with City agencies to help build resilience and stability for New York and all its people.”

“Thanks to DEP and TPL for kicking off construction on a Green Infrastructure Playground at PS 229,” said City Council Member Robert Holden. “This project will ease the burden on our sewer systems during heavy rains. It is a win for water runoff management and the students and a massive relief for residents around the school.”

“Green infrastructure playgrounds are crucial for the city in helping manage stormwater and keep the East River clean, all while providing valuable green space to the community,” said City Council Member Christopher Marte. We laud the efforts of the Trust for Public Land and DEP in their work to make Chinatown and the Lower East Side more sustainable.”

Across the five boroughs, the roughly 7,500 miles of sewers and 150,000 catch basins remain the backbone of the city’s drainage system. However, over the last decade DEP has built the nation’s largest Green Infrastructure Program. This work includes upgrading the drainage at schoolyards so that they act like sponges and absorb all the rain that falls on them. Thus far more than 100 have either been constructed, are in construction, or are in design.

Green Infrastructure intercepts stormwater before it can reach the sewer system, thereby preserving some capacity in the sewers and reducing the likelihood of flooding. Green Infrastructure allows the stormwater to be absorbed into the ground naturally. As part of PlaNYC, DEP committed to creating a citywide stormwater adaptation plan. That work is underway now and will include initiatives to expand all of our drainage tools – sewers, Green Infrastructure, Bluebelts, and Cloudburst neighborhoods, amongst others.

Over the last 10 years DEP spent $5.7 billion to upgrade all drainage systems across the city and is planning to invest more than $10 billion for similar upgrades over the next decade.

TPL’s goal for every schoolyard is to turn blacktop “playgrounds” into vibrant, verdant spaces that do double duty as neighborhood parks outside of school hours. Opening all the nation’s public schoolyards during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of nearly 20 million people—solving the problem of outdoor access for one-fifth of the 100 million people across the country who don’t currently have a park close to home. These Community Schoolyards projects are improving the health, equity, and climate resilience of neighborhoods across the country and transforming the lives of students, families, teachers, and the whole community.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit

About the NYC Department of Environmental Protection

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.8 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP also protects the health and safety of New Yorkers by enforcing the Air and Noise Codes and asbestos rules. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $29 billion in investments over the next 10 years. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Continue Reading