By Karen Frantz

A bill that would help prevent flooding after intense storms — an increasingly common scourge of many homeowners in some areas of Queens — was passed by the City Council last week to the applause of a Queens councilman.

The legislation, passed Feb. 6, requires the city Parks Department to identify types of vegetation it could plant that would help absorb stormwater before it could overwhelm storm sewers, causing a mix of polluted rainwater and sewage to overflow.

Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection who drafted the legislation, applauded the bill’s passage Monday.

“In Queens, we know the challenges of managing stormwater all too well,” Gennaro said. “Several areas in our borough, and in the rest of our city, are prone to flooding with rainwater after heavy storms.”

Areas of Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills and other parts of the borough are particularly vulnerable to flooding, with many area residents saying their homes become inundated by a mixture of stormwater and sewage during intense storms. Some have complained that as soon as they fix the damage from flooding the next storm will hit and they will be deluged again.

Flooding is also occurring more often in recent years as intense storms happen more frequently than in the past, a development that Gennaro has attributed to climate change.

Gennaro said the flooding is also due in large part to the urban transformation of the city, with large portions of the previous natural vegetated landscape morphed into swaths of concrete, which does not absorb rainwater.

He said his legislation would “help mitigate sewer overflows and flooding by identifying plants and other materials to absorb rainwater right where it falls, while also enhancing the local quality of life by beautifying the city.

Gennaro also hailed the passage of two other bills Feb. 6 that would help make the city more environmentally friendly.

One bill would create a Web portal that would provide information to residents and business owners intent on cutting energy costs about renewable energy systems, including how feasible and economically friendly different systems are.

The second would require the Parks Department to maximize the use of plants that are native to the city and outlaw the introduction of invasive plant species.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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