HVA Gets S.L. Gimbel Foundation grant to protect streams and wildlife in Amenia

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mach 16, 2015                            By WPWL

A playground behind the Amenia Town Hall and parking areas around the building are constantly wet and unusable due to drainage problems. The Town of Amenia is planning to upgrade the playground and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) will take the first step in alleviating some of the drainage problems by installing a rain garden at the town hall which will demonstrate green infrastructure and improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

This project is made possible with a $17,000 grant from The S. L. Gimbel Foundation Advised Fund at The Community Foundation – Inland Southern California. The grant also allows HVA and town staff to develop a stormwater management plan based on green infrastructure.

Untreated runoff from the asphalt parking lots, walking paths, two major roads and building roofs flows directly to stormwater drains and then into the wetlands and Amenia Creek adjacent to Amenia Town Hall. This wetland and creek is home to several wildlife species listed as threatened or endangered by the state.

HVA Water Protection Director Michael Jastremski said, “The rain garden will collect and filter trash, bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants from stormwater before it flows into nearby wetlands and Amenia Creek helping to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.”

He noted that another benefit of the stormwater management plan includes enhancing aesthetics. In addition to being functional as it captures and cleans stormwater, the rain garden showcases a variety of flowers and attracts birds and butterflies.

According to Jastremski, climate change is expected to increase average annual precipitation in the Northeast. By reducing stormwater runoff and protecting floodplains, green infrastructure can help manage floods in areas such as the Amenia Town Hall site by absorbing rainfall and preventing water from overwhelming pipe networks and pooling in streets or basements.

Partners on this project include the Garden Club, Amenia Enhancement Committee and Conservation Advisory Commission. Webatuck High School students will provide volunteers. Jastremski said Amenia municipal leadership welcomes the project.

Founded in 1941, HVA is the only group dedicated solely to protecting the Housatonic River and its entire 2,000 square-mile watershed which includes 83 communities from western Massachusetts through western Connecticut and the Tenmile River watershed of eastern New York State to Long Island Sound. HVA monitors water quality throughout the watershed, adds sections to the Housatonic Greenway which links preserved space along the Housatonic River corridor with hiking and biking trails, and uses computer mapping to help towns measure the impact and benefits of land use and development. HVA also sponsors the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative in protecting more land across northwest Connecticut. HVA has offices in Cornwall Bridge, Conn.; South Lee, Mass.; and Wassaic, N.Y.


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