Westchester County Stream and Wetland Restoration Completed, Protecting a New York City Water Supply

Image Credit: NYC DEP.

The former Armonk Bowling Alley has been converted into a natural buffer upstream of the Kensico Reservoir and will help to protect a key source of unfiltered drinking water. On June 4, 2021, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced the completion of a $5.5 million restoration project to rebuild a stream and wetlands on the site of the former Armonk Bowling Alley located in Westchester County. The new stream and wetlands expand the natural area and further protects a key source of unfiltered drinking water for the New York City.

The restoration project restored the site of the former Armonk Bowling Alley that was closed in 1999. The Department of Environmental Protection purchased the 3.13-acre parcel of land in 2008 through its acquisition program. The acquisition program seeks to preserve certain areas of land located around the unfiltered portions of the reservoir system. The bowling alley was then demolished in 2011. The multi-year project to restore the creek and establish wetlands began in order to protect water quality and native wildlife.

The site is located about two miles north of the Kensico Reservoir. The reservoir provides unfiltered drinking water for New York City and about half of Westchester County. The neighboring Bear Gutter Creek was shrunken and confined by the construction of the bowling alley.

Demolition of a parking lot and restoration work began in 2019 and finished early this year in 2021. Bear Gutter Creek was re-routed and given a more natural design that included meanders and grade controls. The creeks restoration allowed it to no longer be confined to the ditch that it was stuck in.

The wetland habitat was constructed in Bear Gutter Creek’s floodplain. The wetland complex includes small pools that provide a home for American toads, spring peepers, and other native species. Native trees and bushes were also planted in the area including willow trees, red maple trees, and chokeberry bushes.

A small parking lot was constructed as a part of the project and will be given to the Town of North Castle to support local businesses.

The newly restored site joins with a four-acre wetland complex constructed by the Department of Environmental Protection in the 2010s. The hydrology of the current site was matched with that of the previous site through the use of elevation maps. The newly established streams and wetlands will help establish a natural buffer to continue protecting the unfiltered drinking water.

The site will be monitored by the Department of Environmental Protection’s scientists for the next five years to ensure the health and growth of the natural plantings.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza stated, “New York City is world-renowned for its science-based programs to protect its unfiltered drinking water. Our project at the former Armonk Bowling Alley is a great example of our programs at work. Our experts harnessed sound science and careful engineering to transform a vast swath of pavement into a preserved area of streams, wetlands and trees that will protect a critical source of drinking water for more than 9 million New Yorkers.”

By:  Patrick McNeill (Patrick is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)



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