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SWIM In Action

See below for a snapshot of our accomplishments since SWIM Coalition launched in 2007.


2020 was a year like no other. Words cannot describe the challenges that our communities across the city and globe experience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. SWIM Coalition members, through their collective actions and mutual aid program, proved that networks of advocates who work closely together are the backbone of social resilience in our society. Our members rose up together in a united front with all of their constituents to face and resolve excruciating challenges and circumstances in their communities. SWIM Coalition joined the Rise to Resilience Coalition in their calls on city, state and federal agencies to ensure an array of climate resilience measures for New York and New Jersey, testified at public hearings in support of a 5 borough coastal resilience plan for NYC and worked closely with a Green Roof Tax Abatement working group and legislators to update the program to include a higher abatement amount and priority zones for the installation of green roofs in areas of the city where they are needed most.  


Our work in 2019 focused on building awareness of the need to integrate climate change predictions for sea level rise and rainfall into city,state and federal climate resilience plans for our region. We stepped up our advocacy for policies that would incentivize green roofs on private property in NYC, and stood alongside legislators who introduced two green roof laws  (which passed as part of the city's Climate Mobilization Act!) and encouraged the renewal and updates on the green roof tax abatement program which SWIM helped launch back in 2007. We supported the work of our members in their communities as they raised public awareness of city and state actions that impact the health of our local waterways, and worked on updating our mission statement to adapt it to the context and work we are focused on in terms of climate resilience and the glaring gaps in the city, state and federal planning for social, environmental, and coastal resilience in our region. 


Throughout 2018, SWIM Coalition staff and member delegates worked closely with the City Council Committee for Environmental Protection to monitor and ensure that the city's water quality improvement plans and programs for our local waterways were meeting their appropriate milestones. SWIM teamed up with the Wildlife Conservation Society on their campaign to ban plastic straws in NYC and partnered with several of our members on a community-driven action plan to catalyze green infrastructure in the sewershed of a major CSO outfall on the Dutch Kills  tributary of Newtown Creek.  2018 was one of the wettest years on record in NYC and the rainfall caused an uptick in the number of CSO discharge events. We worked to raise awareness of the NYC Panel on Climate Change projections for rainfall in our region and the need to ensure that the City and State plans to reduce CSO volume align with the projections for climate change induced sea level rise and increased rainfall. 


SWIM entered into a strategic partnership with Hudson Riverkeeper in 2017 to implement a 3-year action plan. Riverkeeper. Together, we actively mobilized community stakeholders in neighborhoods where the city is implementing CSO Long Term Control Plans. Through our partnership we have worked closely to ensure robust public participation in the formation and implementation of eleven CSO LTCP's, while also engaging waterway stewards in the development of the City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Stormwater Management Plan, and the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan.   All 3 of these inter-related programs aim to improve water quality in our local waterways by the year 2030 and align with the city's OneNYC plans and goals. 


SWIM administered the production of 3 additional Open Sewer Atlas maps, produced a Clean Water Steward Workbook, as well as a series of factsheets to help waterway stewards better understand the City’s water quality improvement plans. SWIM collaborated with local stewardship groups throughout 2016 to host a series of Clean Water Steward workshops to help stakeholders navigate the complexities of the City’s plans for their local waterbodies over the next few decades. 

2014 - 2015

Through a grant from the Taconic Foundation to the Pratt Institute Center for Community Development, the SWIM-supported Open Sewer Atlas Project generated and disseminated user-friendly maps that document combined sewer outfall (CSO) catchment areas around the City. The sewershed maps provide our member organizations and local citizens with the means to recognize and locate CSO sites in their neighborhoods. 


When the Green Roof Property Tax Abatement program legislation was due for renewal in 2013, SWIM convened a Green Roof Tax Abatement Working Group to provide recommendations for improving the program. Some of the working group’s recommendations were incorporated into the renewed legislation.


Due largely to the advocacy of SWIM members and partners, the City and the State agreed to include green infrastructure in the 2012 CSO Consent Order. Prior to this agreement, the order was based solely on grey infrastructure improvements. 


SWIM and Newtown Creek Alliance launched the Weather in the Watershed program to install weather stations and a combined sewer overflow (CSO) alert system in Newtown Creek for a pilot CSO public notification project. We installed weather stations that collected rainfall data and evaluated real-time CSO discharges using devices installed at outfall sites in the East River. We also communicated with the Newtown Creek WWTP engineer on when regulators were tripped and text alerts might be sent. This project was the inspiration and basis for DEP’s current WAIT! Program.


We launched "Minds in The Gutter." a public program that called for design solutions to the question: How can New York City utilize its existing 6,000 miles of roadway and 12,000 miles of sidewalk as an opportunity for stormwater management? We showcased the proposed solutions in an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and hosted a panel discussion on green infrastructure. Additionally, SWIM supported New York City’s commitment to meeting US Clean Water Act requirements through the implementation of green infrastructure. New York City's new Green Infrastructure Plan included $187 million in capital funds dedicated to reducing combined sewer overflows by installing and maintaining green infrastructure.​


SWIM Coalition is awarded with the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities' Civic Award of Excellence for an Organization. The award was in recognition of SWIM's efforts to "mobilize industry professionals, passionate citizens and sustainable-minded organizations to bind together and propose an incentive for green roofs... a superb example of the power of collaboration and persistence to affect change."


SWIM Coalition advocated for the passage of Local Law 5, which required the City to develop the Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan, the precursor to the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan (2010). SWIM also supported the passage of the 2008 New York City Green Roof Property Tax Abatement law, worth up to $100,000 per project.


SWIM Coalition founded in New York City, to be a community-wide voice for fishable, swimmable waters.

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