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The Daily Plant : Tuesday, August 20, 2002


According to the National Weather Service, severe drought currently affects about 37 percent of the continental United States. In New York, we have just emerged from the driest July since 1910 – only 1.05 inches of rain fell during the entire month. The drought concerns all New Yorkers, but Parks faces a particular challenge. We are charged with keeping over 28,000 acres of parkland thriving, even when our plants are starved for rain and scorched by the summer sun. As the drought continues, Parks must develop ways to conserve water and ensure that our parks continue to thrive. On Thursday, August 15 Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Christopher Ward and Chief Engineer of Public Health Engineering from the Department of Health James Luke in Seward Park on the Lower East Side to announce an innovative water conservation process that can do just that.

For the first time, Parks is implementing a system utilizing recycled water from our spray showers – also called grey water –to irrigate playground green spaces throughout the five boroughs. Children from Seward Park and Little Flower Playground frolicked in the mist while Commissioner Benepe took members of the press on a tour of the system. As children cool off in the showers, the water spraying them is collected, sanitized, and finally stored in tanks. Rainwater – if there is any – will also be collected in the same way. Parks’ gardeners may use hoses and buckets to water plants, or the water can be pumped into a water truck to irrigate nearby street plantings.

Commissioner Benepe explained, "This water will not only be vital to maintaining existent plant life; it will also nourish future plantings and provide a strong foundation for future renovations." This fall, Seward Park’s comfort stations will be revitalized and new plantings will be added as part of Parks’ citywide initiative called Operation Releaf. The Department of Environmental Protection has committed $500,000 to this exciting project so that it can expand throughout the city. In the future, grey water systems will be installed at Thorpe Playground in the Bronx, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Brooklyn, Vesuvio/Thompson Playground in Manhattan, Dry Harbor Playground in Queens, and Jennifer Playground, a Playground for All Children in Staten Island.

Thanks to everyone who worked on the project, including Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects Amy Freitag, Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects Nancy Barthold, Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, Chief of Design Paul Ersboll, Deputy Chief of Technical Services Artie Rollins, Director of Engineering Arjun Sheth, Project Managers at 5 Boro Bill Shutte and Rick Gordon, and Chief of Staff for Capital Julia McCarthy.

Facts about Grey Water

  • Grey water is water that can be used twice.
  • Even when grey water is sanitized, it is NOT safe to drink.
  • You can use grey water at home.
  • Do use rainwater as well as water from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, bathtubs, showers, and the household laundry.
  • Do NOT use water from garbage disposals or toilets and NEVER use water that you know to have been in contact with bacteria – such as water used to clean meat or poultry, or to wash diapers – or harsh chemicals.
  • Use grey water on ornamental plants. Grey water should not be used directly on anything that may be eaten.
  • Most of the irrigation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida uses grey water.

Written by Jennifer Keeney


(August 29, 1989)



As bulldozers roared and drills rattled, Parks officials and Bronx residents tossed some ceremonial dirt in honor of the restoration of St. Mary’s Park on St. Mary’s Street and Cypress Avenue in the South Bronx.

St. Mary’s Park is undergoing a $2 million capital restoration, the second phase of a three-part renovation of one of the oldest parks in the Bronx. The 34-acre park will feature new playground equipment, safety surfacing, restored baseball fields and handball courts, and a reconstructed promenade plaza.


"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes."

Henry J. Kaiser

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