Living with the Bay: A Comprehensive Regional Resiliency Plan for Nassau County’s South Shore

Winning Project

Interboro Team
Long Island, New York

Interboro / Apex / Bosch Slabbers / Deltares / H+N+S / Palmbout / IMG Rebel with Center for Urban Pedagogy, David Rusk, NJIT Infrastructure Planning Program, Project Projects, RFA Investments, TU Delft

How do we keep Long Islanders safe in the face of future extreme weather events and sea-level rise? How do we ensure that the next big storm won’t be as devastating to the region as Sandy? And what can we do to improve the water quality and quality of life in the region? What can we do to make “bay life” safer, healthier, more fun, and more accessible?

These are the questions we address in Living with the Bay, our comprehensive regional resiliency plan for Nassau County’s South Shore. The goal of the plan is to make the communities around the South Shore’s bays more resilient in the face of future extreme weather events and sea level rise, but also strengthen what makes living near the bays great in the first place.

Because the region faces multiple water-based threats, there is no “silver bullet” solution. A surge barrier might protect Long Islanders from storm surge, but it won’t do much to keep us safe from nor-easters and other rain events that routinely flood our communities. Withdrawing or retreating from the coast would result in less flood damage, but the South Shore is certainly not going to throw in the towel. And neither should it. There’s a reason why people live on the South Shore: it’s a great place to live!

We think there is a better way to live with the bay!

Our preferred “buffered bay” scenario presents a range of integrated adaptive measures that keep Nassau County residents safe, and add to the economic, ecological, and social quality of the region. These measures include mitigating the damage from storm surge, storm water runoff, and sea level rise by recovering the sediment system and strategically deploying protective measures like constructed marshes, dikes, and cross-structures along the urbanized edge; managing storm water in order to mitigate the damages from common rain events as well as improve the water quality in the bay; and expanding housing options in high and dry areas near public transportation.

Living with the Bay: A Comprehensive, Regional Resiliency Plan for Nassau County’s South Shore.

Acknowledging that there are no “silver bullet” solutions to coastal protection, we propose an integrated, multi-pronged approach, which includes planning and design at the scale of the region, five sub-regions, and specific sites.



Strategies For The Barrier Island: The Smart Barrier

Due to their location and topography, Long Island’s barrier islands are among the region’s most vulnerable zones when it comes to sea level rise and storm surges. Here we propose protective infrastructure that doubles as a landscape amenity to provide access to the bay-shore, and as storm water landscape, where storm water is stored, cleaned and replenished.



Strategies For The Marsh: The Eco-Edge

While Wetlands — and in particular, saltwater marshes — play a critical role in buffering coastal communities, urban development has negatively impacted Nassau County’s wetlands. We propose new marsh islands that reduce wave action, improve the bay ecology, and afford new recreational opportunities.



Strategies For The Lowlands: Slow Streams

The areas around Southern Nassau’s north-south tributaries are threatened both by surge water flooding and storm water inundation. We propose to address these threats — along other challenges such water quality, ecological recovery and aquifer recharge — through a set of interconnected interventions, transforming rivers into green-blue corridor that both store and filter water, provide public space as well as room for new urban development.

Download a PDF of the team’s final competition boards here.

View a PDF of the team’s full proposal here.

Review an earlier version of the proposal here.



Adelphi University Environmental Studies Program, Association of Marine Industries, Baldwin Civic Association, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, City of Long Beach, Community Development, Corporation of Long Island, CRZ, Empire Justice, ERASE Racism, Garden Club of Long Island, Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and New York Rising, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Hofstra University Suburban Studies Program, LIVOAD Long Term Recovery Group, Long Island Housing Partnership, Long Island Index, Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, Long Island Regional Planning Council, Nassau County Executive Office, Nassau County Department of Public Works, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Office of Senator Chuck Schumer, Operation SPLASH, South Shore Estuary Reserve, Stonybrook University Department of Geosciences, Sustainable Long Island, The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Town of Hempstead Department of Conservation and Waterways, Town of Hempstead Department of Engineering, Trout Unlimited, Village of East Rockaway, Village of Freeport, Village of Lynbrook, Village of Rockville Centre, Vision Long Island, Western Bays Coalition


June 4, 2014 2:42 pm
from Joe Forgione

I’ve been following the work of The Interboro Team since the storm and I’m really excited to see that the “Slow Streams” part of the plan won the Rebuild by Design competition. I’m a resident of East Rockaway, a cofounder of the community group the11518, and a member of the Bay Park Beautification committee. I know there is lots of local resident interest in what this all could mean for our neighborhood and how the $125 million award will be used. If there is any room for us in the process, or if you’re interest in sharing more information with our local community groups, please let me know as I have lots of contact with local storm recovery leaders. Thanks for your hard work and here’s to a bright future on Nassau County’s South Shore!


June 4, 2014 5:55 pm
from Lawrenec Sheerin

In SW Nassau County (NC) the Jones Inlet is where the hurricanes and super storms push the ocean through as these storm blow counter-clockwise. From Freeport west, (Baldwin Harbor, S. Oceanside, East Rockaway, S. Valley Stream and the Five Towns) the damage done is through this inlet. One often hears the expression: the waters meet on Long Beach. This means that the water pouring south from Reynolds Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean. The water in Reynolds Channel comes through the Jones Inlet. The water that destroyed LB Hosp came from the north, Reynolds Channel, not from the south. The water that took out the Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway came from Reynolds Channel. I see proposals to raise the Loop Pkwy (Betw the Meadowbrook Pkwy and Point Lookout) and then install barriers underneath the raised parkway. This is a step in the right direction. But why not stop the problem at the source: the Jones Inlet. Massive flood-gate arrangements were built all over New Orleans post facto to stop Katrina-type damage from occurring again. Why not install floodgates at the southern end of the Jones Inlet and stop the problem before it starts?


January 13, 2015 7:36 pm
from Alan pollock

125,000,000. GET REAL, add two orders of magnitude to that! You need flood gates at all inlets and high capacity protected and independently powered pumps. Even then if the barrier islands become awash, it won’t work.


January 13, 2015 9:22 pm
from Anthony Calabro

There are amazing engineering projects around the world to prevent flooding, such as new twists on the old system that has worked for ages in the Netherlands, or the new Floodgate system being devised for Venice in Italy. But a bunch of people coming to a meeting complaining about things not getting done is not the answer, neither is a bunch of people with little to no expertise in meteorology, physics, fluid dynamics, or geology going to get this fixed. We have something called the Army Corps of Engineers, who should be tackling this with a group of scientists and private engineers to come up with viable solutions that really, work, and protect the barrier islands and the bays.


February 4, 2015 11:48 am
from mary k theodore

I too have been following the work of the Interboropartners Team. I attended several meeting which were moderated by them and was impressed with their knowledge, depth of research on this subject, and their innovative plans to deal with the impact of another Sandy on Long Island.


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