Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main Street • Flushing, New York
Reduce downstream damage from runoff
Safely move, control, contain rainwater
Capture rain for reuse (of all kinds, human and natural, from irrigation and toilet flushing to groundwater recharge)
Restore or create habitat
The basic stormwater management concept at the Queens Botanical Garden is capture, cleanse, reuse in water features, cleaning, and toilet flushing, or infiltrate. Rainwater is managed in a variety of ways in different parts of the site. A new “parking garden” infiltrates rain in pervious paving plus “parking fingers” (islands) that biofilter and infiltrate; runoff from large rain events flows to a large rain garden. Surface runoff from the maintenance courtyard and other dirty areas requires more management: it is treated with a mechanical filter, runs through a biotope, is stored in a cistern, then reused for irrigation and cleaning machinery. Roof runoff from the visitor center is addressed in two ways. Rain falling on the auditorium roof is filtered and retained by a green roof; rain hitting the rest of the visitor center feeds a complex harvesting system: runoff falls from a scupper into a cleansing biotope (artificial shallow pond with vegetation and gravel substrate), then is stored in a cistern where ultraviolet radiation destroys bacteria. The processed rainwater is then pumped to a fountain at the edge of the Main Street entry plaza, which feeds a “stream” that flows back to the biotope at the visitor center, bringing the rain full circle. Finally, the entire site drains toward a depressed central spine, recalling Mill Creek, that can hold up to a 100-year storm rainwater volume.
Because this is a botanical garden in a neighborhood of extraordinary diversity, the stormwater management strategy was intended to showcase rainwater and greywater recycling and cleansing technologies in ways that would especially inform children and the elderly. And so it is easy to follow rainwater trails from parking lot to rain garden, and from roof to biotope; but only thanks to signage do we learn one of the outstanding features of this ARD: water that flows from a fountain to a stream back to the biotope at the visitor center—water that is not only visible but also touchable, splashable—is all rain. Within this beautiful, well-used community garden, rainwater is the unifying feature.