Long Island homeowners looking to play a role in reducing stormwater runoff, which is one of the leading causes of nitrogen pollution in our waterways, will soon be eligible for grants to help cover the cost and maintenance of runoff mitigation projects on their property.
The Long Island Regional Planning Council, in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NEIWPCC, is introducing the Long Island Garden Rewards Program which will provide up to $500 to offset the expense of installing green infrastructure on their properties including rain barrels, native plantings, and rain gardens.
“The quality of our surface waters, and of our drinking water beneath us, is threatened by excess nitrogen pollution created by stormwater runoff,” stated John Cameron, LIRPC chairman. “While municipalities on every level are addressing stormwater runoff and nitrogen pollution, the Long Island Regional Planning Council saw the need to encourage homeowners to become a part of the solution in their own small but significant way.”
Excess nitrogen causes toxic algal blooms that lead to low oxygen conditions, fish kills, harmful algal blooms, degraded wetlands and marine habitats. Nitrogen also contaminates the groundwater, which is the sole source of Long Island’s drinking water supply
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is committed to protecting Long Island water quality in partnership with the Long Island Regional Planning Council, NEIWPCC, and Nassau and Suffolk counties. Reducing nitrogen pollution is critical to improving water quality, protecting groundwater, and strengthening the long-term health of marine life. DEC encourages homeowners to take part in the Long Island Garden Rewards Program and talk to neighbors about how green infrastructure can reduce runoff and protect the environment.”
“It has been great working with LIRPC and NYSDEC to build out this program, and I’m excited for this launch!” said Courtney Botelho, NEIWPCC Environmental Analyst. “The program offers Long Island residents a hands-on opportunity to meaningfully contribute to local water quality improvements right from their yards.”
Under the Long Island Garden Rewards Program, homeowners can receive a maximum of $500 to help cover the cost of their projects.
Rain Barrels: Rain Barrels reduce stormwater runoff by collecting and storing rainwater for homeowners to later use in their yards and gardens, also helping conserve water consumption. Barrels must be a minimum of 50 gallons and are required to have mosquito netting or screening. Reimbursement of up to $125 for each barrel will be provided for purchase, up to $500 maximum.
Native Plantings: Native plants are heartier and more resilient to local climate conditions. Native plant plantings can reduce water usage, reduce fertilizer and pesticide usage, and promote biodiversity. These native plants help promote a healthy ecosystem and are more resistant to local weather.
Rain Gardens: Rain gardens collect rainwater from roofs, driveways and other surfaces and allow that rain to soak into the ground. Rain gardens can filter stormwater before it reaches local waterways, mitigate flooding caused by pavement and enhance your yard with low maintenance landscaping. To be eligible, a rain garden must be a minimum of 20 square feet, use native plants and be maintained for at least three years.