Skip to main content

Living with the Bay

LWTB Resiliency Book

Read the Living with the Bay Resiliency Strategy!

Project Description

Like all tributaries in the region, the Mill River is a product of the glaciers that formed Long Island.  For thousands of years, the Mill River flowed unimpeded into the South Shore Estuary (Back Bay), establishing a vital link between marine and upland habitats.  Migratory fish moved into and out of the river, providing an important forage source for countless species and helping to drive the region's coastal ecosystem.

Beginning in Colonial times, the flow of the Mill River was harvested to power gristmills.  The original dam at Smith Pond was constructed to power a mill. Later, in the late 19th Century, significant impoundments were established in the Mill River's upper reaches as part of the Brooklyn Water Works project, an elaborate effort to satisfy Brooklyn's rapidly growing water needs. These impoundments became the basis of Hempstead Lake State Park. As communities emerged, storm water and sewer systems developed with outflow pipes entering the river and roads with rail lines crossing the river. 
With increasing populations and development, Mill River communities have been more susceptible to flooding. This became most evident during Superstorm Sandy, when Nassau County was hit with rain and a tidal surge of up to 18 feet. Public and private infrastructure along the river were damaged including more than 7,600 homes, as well as bridges, businesses, parks, roads, schools, and a wastewater treatment facility at the entrance of the Bay.
Inland communities regularly experience flooding due to heavy rainfall (such as experienced during Hurricane Irene and other more frequent storm events) exceeding the carrying capacity of the existing storm water infrastructure.  Frequent flooding has been identified by the Town of Hempstead, Village of Malvern Village, the Hempstead Public Housing Authority and other locations, as identified in Figure 2.

Figure 2: LWTB areas of flooding
Experience from Sandy and other storms has shown that the project area is primarily susceptible to flooding and property damage due to the following:
  • Tidal storm surge during major storm events (as evident from Superstorm Sandy),
  • Inundation by surface waters due to poor drainage during storm events,
  • Coastal changes associated with erosion and 
  • Other coastal changes associated with relative elevation changes (e.g., land/marshland subsidence and/or sea level rise).
LWTB developed a series of projects to address a variety of flooding sources throughout the project area; in a comprehensive, practical and feasible manner. The revised project is organized into seven focus areas:
  • Hempstead Lake State Park (HLSP) Improvements: LWTB will address storm water storage capacity management by rehabilitating and enhancing an existing 100+ year old dam located at HLSP. As an instrument for flood mitigation, the dam (with an operating gatehouse) will provide for reduced and delayed peak flows to downstream water bodies and communities during extreme weather events. This project will have several significant co-benefits, such as reducing the risk posed to downstream communities by dam failure and rehabilitation of this historic structure. Other improvements at HLSP, including wetland rehabilitation and dam repairs in the Northern Ponds area, will further enhance storm water flow attenuation, improve water quality in the watershed by removing contaminants in urban run-off and provide enhanced habitat and new, expanded passive recreational opportunities. The HLSP improvements will also include a new facility to be used for education and as a coordination center during emergencies, as well as improved waterfront access at various locations, further improving recreational opportunities in this critical State park.
  • East Rockaway High School Hardening: LWTB will install a bulkhead and living shoreline to reduce erosion and flooding in the athletic fields and parking areas. The project will also consider opportunities for storm water storage, increased public waterfront access, backflow prevention devices and a generator to support the school as an emergency shelter during disasters.
  • Storm water Retrofits: The State will strategically install green infrastructure including, but not limited to: drywells, bioswales, permeable pavement, tree planting, and select bioretention and infiltration interventions throughout the project area.
  • Smith Pond Drainage Improvements: LWTB will improve water quality, enhance recreation, restore the ecological system to promote native aquatic species and expand the hydraulic surge capacity of the pond, by reconfiguring the bottom of the pond. Sedimentation has reduced the hydraulic capacity of the pond to absorb storm water first-flushes and altered the ecology to favor invasive species. Project elements anticipated include shoreline stabilization, recharge basin, permeable pavement parking lot, a fish ladder, and either rehabilitating or replacing the existing weir. Dredging, wetlands restoration, landscaping (including tree planting) and construction of greenway paths will also be evaluated.  
  • Coastal Marshland Restoration:  LWTB will restore, protect and/or enhance marshlands in the Back Bay at the mouth of the Mill River. The project will be designed in a manner to slow tidal storm surge velocity and enhance habitat for native species, including birds, fish, and benthic species.
  • Greenway Network: LWTB will create greenways connecting communities with sections of the project area, including north of HLSP, throughout HLSP, south to Smith Pond and East Rockaway High School. The State will evaluate connecting the greenway further south to Nassau County Bay Park.
  • Social Resiliency Programs: LWTB will work with relevant community organizations and/or educational institutions to develop public education programs. These education programs will include environmental and historical education for schools and the public. LWTB will also look to develop job training programs with a focus on green infrastructure. 

Budget and Leveraging of Funds

The budget amount submitted in the overall design proposal to the RBD competition for the Living with the Bay project was $177,366,078. With a Community Development Block Grant- Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation of $125,000,000, the State will explore additional funding options to fill any unmet needs and analyze the budget further, to implement a reduced scale project which still meets project objectives.

The State is committed to the successful implementation of Living with the Bay, and will look at funding opportunities such as federal or private grants, and additional financing opportunities.


Planning  $3,750,000
Pre Development $8,750,000
Construction $106,250,000
Program Delivery $6,250,000
Total Allocated Budget $125,000,000


Study, Research Planning: This Phase will outline all additional studies, research and planning needed prior to the design and engineering phase. As necessary, this phase will be incorporated into the Environmental Review and Permitting stage as well as the Engineering Phase. Quarter 1 2014 Quarter 2 2017
Preliminary Environmental Scope Development: This phase will be an additional step for the Living with the Bay Project. The complexity of the project as currently envisioned, as well as the size of the potential study area, will require careful consideration prior to formally commencing the Environmental Review and Permitting Stage. At the same time, given the need for an expedient schedule, this preliminary phase will allow certain environmental tasks to be performed in anticipation of the formal review.  Concurrent with the study, research and planning phase, the State will conduct preliminary environmental scoping activities. This additional planning and scope development is essential to planning a cogent and implementable project to meet the objectives of Rebuild by Design. Quarter 4 2014 Quarter 2 2018
Environmental Review and Permitting: This Phase will include scoping for and preparation of an environmental review consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as the submittal of permits applications to the appropriate governmental agencies. This Phase will include significant opportunities for public review and comment, as well as intergovernmental consultation.  Additionally, as required by State and federal law, the environmental review will evaluate alternatives to the proposed project. This timeline is meant to represent an overview of the expected Environmental Review Process for all aspects of the Living with the Bay Project. It should be noted that the environmental review and permitting timeline is dependent on the permitting requirements of agencies with jurisdiction, including the United States Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA-NMFS, USFWS and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Quarter 1 2017 Quarter 4 2019
Design and Engineering: This phase will include all design and engineering work required for the Living with the Bay culminating with complete construction specs. Depending on the progress and outcome of the Environmental Review and Permitting process, this process will be able to run concurrently for some components of the project. This phase will include any and all necessary procurement and contracting as appropriate. Quarter 1 2017 Quarter 4 2018
Site Development: This Phase will include all necessary elements for site development from the Design and Engineering Phase that will prepare for the construction phase of the Living with the Bay project. GOSR will evaluate a potential phased site development schedule for different project components (e.g., upland components and in-water components). Quarter 3 2017 Quarter 1 2020
Construction: This Phase will include all elements of construction related to the Living with the Bay project outlined in the Design and Engineering Phase. For the Living with the Bay project, the timeline is extended to reflect that the nature of the project will only allow for construction in specific building seasons. GOSR will evaluate a potential phase construction schedule for different project components (e.g., upland components and in-water components). Quarter 2 2018 Quarter 4 2020
Closeout: This phase will include the closeout of the entire project, including but not limited to: final site visits and review, release of final contingency payments and all applicable CBDG-DR construction closeout requirements. Quarter 2 2019 Quarter 4 2022

To view this project's environmental documents, click here.