Tompkinsville’s bioswale: lush and hard at work

With the exceptional storms and torrential downpours that have been common during the past year or so, the bioswale that was installed at the corner of Victory Boulevard and St. Paul’s Avenue in Tompkinsville has had its work cut out for it. Judging from the green lushness of the thriving vegetation there, it seems to be doing its job well.

Bioswales, which are smart catch basins for rainwater runoff consisting of minutely engineered structures of collection tubes, gravel and drainage, are being installed throughout the city in accordance with the PlaNYC 2008 action plan for using natural strategies to combat pollution and flooding. They serve a multitude of purposes, by collecting and filtering rainwater in cistern-like curbside planters that release the water slowly into the ground rather than allowing it to overwhelm the city’s sewer system and by providing space for trees and bushes that both beautify the neighborhood and cleanse the air.

Tompkinsville bioswale, functional, green - and a magnate for windborne litter.

Tompkinsville bioswale, functional, green – and a magnet for windborne litter.

One downside of bioswales, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned in any of the promotional material and reportage, however, is their ability to also clear the streets of windborne litter, by collecting it into their lowest points. The bioswales have a depressed area at their centers, which means that papers and trash sail in but never sail out, and although I have seen sanitation workers and volunteers cleaning the trash out of the Tompkinsville bioswale on several occasions, it still manages to have papery litter in it at any given time. I guess there are no solutions without their own particular challenges.

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