WORKING GROUP 1: Integrating Green & Gray Infrastructure

Goal: To work together across all dimensions, gray and green infrastructure, among government agencies, and between government and the public to better manage heavy rain.

The City’s stormwater infrastructure is not designed to manage heavy rain events, which are only anticipated to become worse. So, we will need to invest in both gray and green infrastructure to manage as much stormwater as possible. However, space and funding are both limited, and trade-offs are inevitable.

Leads: DEP, DPR, Mayor’s Office; Design professionals and researchers


Recommendation #6: Consider ways to view water as an integral part of the built environment through modified design standards that promote integrated green/gray solutions across city agencies to improve and expand stormwater management.  

SOLUTION: Adjust criteria to encourage localized stormwater management and maximize co-benefits for mitigating heat and contributing to health and wellness in neighborhoods. 


IMPLEMENTATION: This effort can be coordinated by MOCEJ through the existing Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines network. Examples of these established design standards that could be amended or leveraged for this work include, but are not limited to:

  • Cloudburst Design Standards (DEP)
  • Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines (MOCEJ)
  • Principles of Good Urban Design (DCP)
  • Streets and Open Space (DOT, DPR)
      • Street Design Manual 
      • Open Streets
      • Resilient Street Ends 
      • Parks Resiliency Guidelines
  • Zoning and Buildings (DCP, DOB)
  • Waterfront access plans
        • Modified zoning requirements that promote nature-based solutions 
  • Enhance and expand existing Building Code requirements to adapt to a changing climate and incorporate inland flooding 

Recommendation #7: Identify partially funded capital and demonstration projects and pursue funding through pooling of city agency resources and federal funding opportunities. Ensure agencies have the resources needed for grant identification and management.


  • Prioritize and strategize which projects fit into various federal funding opportunities
  • Leverage existing initiatives linked to federal funding opportunities, such as NYCEM’s Hazard Mitigation Planning, and task forces such as, the Federal Infrastructure Funding Task Force, to prioritize eligible projects and coordinate funding opportunities  across city agencies

IMPLEMENTATION: This should be a citywide initiative effort across all City Agencies in coordination with OMB & MOCEJ

RECOMMENDATION #8: Tailor and expand incentive programs to promote greater outreach, coordination, and adoption amongst under-resourced or at-risk private properties (new-build and retrofit) such as low-density residential communities, single-family homes, affordable housing, and waterfront development.


  • Catalog existing city incentive programs 
  • Develop an exploratory group to determine opportunities and advance implementation


Agencies such as DEP, HPD, DCP, DOB, and others should coordinate to assess existing incentive programs and explore opportunities to advance implementation. 

RECOMMENDATION #9: Adopt an urban watershed planning approach

SOLUTION: Adopt an urban watershed planning approach that includes: 

  • Prioritized integrated planning (green/gray) to balance holistic citywide flood mitigation and water quality improvements.
  • Multifaceted, stakeholder engagement connecting stormwater management with affordable housing, neighborhood preservation, job creation, neighborhood safety, etc. 
  • Robust risk analyses for identifying the most vulnerable areas within the city with stakeholders and targeted localized solutions.
  • Comprehensive analytical tools to find potential solutions that optimize the local drainage system through targeted investment 
  • Establishing and communicating flood risk reduction standards including residual risk as new infrastructure projects are implemented
  • Research & development and opportunities to incorporate academic institutions 


An urban watershed planning approach can be coordinated among DEP, MOCEJ, and NYCEM and will help the city think more holistically and achieve the below initiatives outlined in the city’s PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done report:


  • Implement a multilayered strategy for flood resilience*

*This includes developing a stormwater flooding adaptation plan by 2024 to establish a citywide flood protection target for stormwater infrastructure


  • Reduce combined sewer overflows by more than 4 billion gallons per year by 2045 to improve water quality 
  • Develop a strategy to end the discharge of untreated sewage into the New York Harbor by 2060
  • Improve the health and ecological function of wetlands

RECOMMENDATION #10: Fund maintenance and upkeep budgets for gray and green stormwater systems. Maintenance needs should be considered early in the project planning and budgeting phase.


  • OMB’s climate budgeting process provides an opportunity to assess maintenance needs and incorporate them into the budgeting process.
  • Promote workforce development programs in partnership with NYCHA and NGOs


  • This should be a citywide initiative effort across all City Agencies in coordination with OMB & MOCEJ.