The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck will join today Marc Matsil of the Trust for Public Land and Richard Nicotra of the Nicotra Group to highlight the importance of wetlands in protecting communities from the dangers of severe storms such as Hurricane Sandy.
The event will take place at the Staten Island Hilton, overlooking the Old Place Creek Tidal Wetlands Area.
“Wetlands provide enormous environmental benefits, but they also help protect families and businesses from some of the worst effects of large storms,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “As we approach the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, let’s remember the critical role wetlands played in helping protect many neighborhoods in New York City during Hurricane Sandy.”
Wetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release storm surge, rain, snowmelt, and groundwater. This combined water storage and braking action lowers flood heights and reduces erosion. Wetlands within urban areas are particularly valuable, as they can counteract the impacts of hard surfaces that don’t absorb storm surge or rainwater.
The Old Place Creek wetlands in Staten Island provided significant protection to businesses and homes near Staten Island’s north shore against Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters, preventing potentially millions of dollars in additional economic costs.
The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers recently proposed a regulation that clarifies what waters are under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The EPA is taking public comment on this proposal until October 20, 2014.