What can you do with 5,000 inefficient toilets? Grow oysters on them, of course!
A project is underway that will install 50,000 oysters in New York’s Jamaica Bay – the largest single installation of breeding oysters in New York City. The installation will include a central donor bed composed of 50,000 oysters as well as four smaller beds composed of clam/oyster shell and broken porcelain. The porcelain was harvested from nearly 5,000 inefficient toilets that were recycled from a citywide water conservation program.
“This oyster bed will serve multiple purposes – protecting our wetlands from erosion, naturally filtering our water and providing a home for our sea dwellers are just a few,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “More broadly, this oyster bed is a small but necessary step in our broader OneNYC commitment to create a more sustainable and more resilient city.”
The New York/New Jersey Harbor was once blanketed by oysters, but due to over harvesting, dredging and pollution, they became functionally extinct decades ago. Oysters are widely recognized as a key component of a healthy marine ecosystem as they filter pollutants from the water, help to protect wetlands and shoreline from erosion and storm surge, and provide habitat for communities of fish and other aquatic organisms.
Once the oyster installation is complete, water quality in the vicinity of the beds will be monitored for anticipated improvements and the beds will be evaluated for the recruitment of new oysters. The project is being funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Interior, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is contributing $375,000. The Billion Oyster Project and students from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School will assist with the installation and monitoring of the oyster beds.
“This innovative project will buffer New York from future storms; it will help clean up the water in the bay; and it will create wildlife habitat,” said NFWF’s Northeastern Director Amanda Bassow. “That’s a tremendous win, and exactly the kind of resilience solutions the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Program hoped to inspire.”
It’s also a really good way to reuse 5,000 broken toilets.