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Staten Island Storm Resiliency Project to Include 'Living' Breakwaters

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TWC News: Staten Island Storm Resiliency Project to Include 'Living' Breakwaters
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Earlier this month, the federal government announced the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to make the city more resistant to flooding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Staten Island's Tottenville section is one of three neighborhoods selected for a pilot program for storm resiliency. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

It's a picture perfect day along the shoreline in Tottenville, and the water so calm, in fact, it's almost hard to imagine 15-foot waves crashing onto the shore like they did during Hurricane Sandy 20 months ago.

"The days when it is not calm, the water can be, literally, deadly. So we're excited to take advantage of this amazing waterfront setting when we can, but then take that element of fear and destructive wave force out of the equation," says Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape.

Landscape architects behind the Living Breakwaters project designed it specifically for Staten Island and the Raritan Bay.

The pilot project is one of three to win $60 million in federal funds in the Rebuild by Design competition.

Living Breakwaters aims to revive the existing ecology of the water and reduce the risk of flooding in the future.

To do that, a necklace of breakwaters will be built to provide a buffer against wave damage, flooding and erosion.

"The idea is that we'll reduce the wave action, the harmful velocity of the waves, and then we'll also protect the shoreline," Orff says.

The breakwaters will be about a quarter mile off the shore and while you won't be able to see them, the tooth-shaped structures will invite marine life to live there.

Oysters will become part of a so-called "living reef" system, filtering out the water and strengthening the breakwater itself.

There will be public space for kayaking, and an outdoor teaching lab for the students who will help with the project over the next several years.

Actual construction is still about two years away, thanks to a lengthy regulatory process and a required environmental review that must be complete before it can start.

"The money's there. That's the good news. That's usually the hard part. The political will is there. So we have got to get through the permitting process. But this is going to happen; there's enough funding to actually make it happen," says John Boule of the engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff.

Project organizers plan to attend the Raritan Bay Festival at the nearby Conference House this Saturday to answer resident questions about the project.

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