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Habitat Restoration Measures Completed in Ley Creek, DeWitt, NY

Bottom Slope/Fish Ramp at Ley Creek

Bottom Slope/Fish Ramp at Ley Creek (pre-existing stone dam on the left)

Streams and lakes in Onondaga County in Central New York area have been significantly altered and degraded as a result of urbanization and industrialization.  Located in the Lake Ontario watershed, the area is eligible for funds under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for habitat improvements in the watershed.  In 2010, the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA), secured funding under the GLRI for restoration measures in the Onondaga Lake watershed.

Following the successful restoration of Beartrap Creek in Salina, New York in 2010,  an additional habitat restoration effort was undertaken in the South Branch of Ley Creek in DeWitt, New York.  The Central New York Chapter of the IWLA, in consultation with the Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI), identified a low head stone dam suspected as acting as an impediment to upstream migration of walleye and northern pike for spring spawning as an opportunity for improvement.  Natural Systems Engineering designed a stone bottom slope (or fish ramp) consisting of field stones placed to the toe of the dam to allow fish passage during periods of higher streamflow.   Partners on the project include  Joe Green Excavating (Phoenix, New York) for construction, OEI for pre- and post-construction biota monitoring, and the Central New York Chapter of the IWLA who was instrumental in site selection and logistics.

Urban Geothermal Retrofit Update!


Photograph 1: Grouting of geothermal wells


Photograph 2: GeoStar 4-ton Combination Heat Pump

In the late summer and early fall, the urban retrofit geothermal project located at 248 Bryant Avenue in Syracuse, New York was completed.  Pipes were fused and run into the basement and pressure tested.  The wells were then grouted with a flowable cementitious grout (See Photograph 1).
Following completion of the site work, the mechanical contractor, Renaissance HVAC (Verona, New York), completed the installation of the 4-ton GeoStar Cypress Combination heat pump see Photograph 2).  Wells were completed by purging and filling with a 20% ethylene glycol solution for freeze protection.  The combination heat pump system allows the heating of the house both with air and radiant hot water and air conditioning in the summer.  The geothermal heat pump will be powered by the grid-connected 6.4 kW solar array mounted on the home’s rooftop.

Piping and the heat pump system were provided by Phoenix Energy Supply who, along with Renaissance HVAC, also provided tremendous support on this challenging project!  The next steps on the path to net-zero are to connect domestic hot water to a heat pump and switchout the natural gas fueled stove and oven!

Recent Save the Rain Project Featured on Channel 9!

The Ra-Lin “Save the Rain” project designed by Natural Systems Engineering was featured on WSYR News Channel 9 on September 30, 2016.  The project involved construction of approximately 16, 000 sq ft of porous asphalt and a bioretention area to manage stormwater runoff from the 1.5 acres of impervious areas at the discount appliance store located on Burnet Avenue in Syracuse.  The project will result in the management of over 1.2 million gallons of stormwater annually, preventing that volume from entering the storm sewer system and contributing to combined sewer overflows to Onondaga Lake.  The story on Channel 9 shows how the porous asphalt allows infiltration of rainwater through the porous surface.

Natural Systems Engineering’s Urban Geothermal Project Featured on “Going Green”!

Natural Systems Engineering’s urban retrofit geothermal project was featured on YNN’s “Going Green” program on May 16, 2016.  Ground source heat pumps will be powered by existing roof top solar panels.  Check back for follow up story later this year.


Urban Retrofit Geothermal Project – Drilling Complete!

Drilling was completed on May 12, 2016 for an urban retrofit geothermal system being installed at 248 Bryant Avenue in Syracuse, New York.  Two vertical closed loops of 300 ft each were set in two wells and will serve the 4-ton combination heat pump system yet to be installed.  Drilling was initiated using an air rotary rig, but was switched to a cable tool rig on the second hole when water was pushed back through the first hole through a void in the bedrock geology.  Water was encountered in each hole, but was contained on-site.  Saline groundwater was a concern, but wasn’t encountered until ~280 ft depth.  System design by Natural Systems Engineering.  Drilling performed by Caster Well Drilling and Water Conditioning (Fulton, New York).

Front Yard Geothermal Drilling - Tipperary Hill, Syracuse

Front Yard Geothermal Drilling – Tipperary Hill, Syracuse

Swallow’s Tavern Green Infrastructure Project Closes out 2015

Construction of green infrastructure was completed in late 2015 consisting of a dry well to management roof runoff and a porous asphalt system to manage parking lot runoff.  Green infrastructure was designed by Natural Systems Engineering and construction was performed by the Rich and Gardner Construction Company (Syracuse, New York).  The project was funded by Onondaga County’s award winning Save the Rain program.

Swallow's Porous Asphalt Placement

Swallow’s Porous Asphalt Placement

Green Infrastructure, porous asphalt parking lot completed at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church!


In October 2015 construction was completed on the porous asphalt installation at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, 515 Oakwood Avenue, Syracuse, New York designed by Natural Systems Engineering.  The project involved construction of 12,000 sq ft of porous asphalt surface to manage runoff from approximately 70,000 sq ft of impervious lot and rooftop.  The project was funded by Onondaga County’s award-winning “Save the Rain” program and will remove over 1.5 milion gal of stormwater per year from the City’s combined sewer system!  The contractor was Ruston Paving Company (DeWitt, New York).   Construction (20)

Patent Issued – “Retrofit Catch Basin for Use in Stormwater Management Practice”!

On September 8, 2015 patent number 9.127,488 was issued by the USPTO for “Retrofit Catch Basin for Use in Stormwater Management Practice.”  The device allows a conventional stormwater catch basin to be retrofitted to divert runoff to an alternative practice (such as green infrastructure) while allowing the catch basin to continue to serve as an overflow for the alternative practice.  Now looking for a partner with whom to commercialize this!

Catch Basin Retrofit Schematic

Birds Eye View of New Green Roof at Zip Networks!

As seen from a passing drone, shown is the new vegetated roof at Zip Networks, 100 Wilkinson Street, Syracuse.  The green roof is an extensive green roof planted with sedum.  Construction was performed by Shaffer Building Services (Syracuse, New York) based on the design of Natural Systems Engineering.   The roof looks brown due to the erosion control mat, but will be green by the end of the season!  The project was funded by Onondaga County’s award-winning Save the Rain program.

Birds Eye View of Zip Networks Vegetated Roof.

Birds Eye View of Zip Networks Vegetated Roof.

First 2015 Save the Rain Project Nearing Completion!

Work is almost complete on the porous asphalt lot at Crest Acura.  The permeable base is shown below.  The project was designed by Natural Systems Engineering and construction is being performed by Rich & Gardner Construction Company (Syracuse, New York).  In addition to managing incident precipitation to the ~15,000 sq ft lot, the project will also infiltrate runoff from the adjoining Crest Acura showroom and service areas.  A total of 1.5 million gallons of stormwater will be managed annually.

On June 1-2, 2015, following placement of the permeable base course shown below, NSE measured the site-wide infiltration rate through the roof sump/overflow catch basin.  Following the June 1 rain event, the site exhibited an infiltration rate of 0.35 in/hr.  Based on this rate, the infiltration basin will completely dewater in roughly 10 hours assuming no additional rainwater input.

Future Crest Vehicle Display Porous Asphalt Lot

Future Crest Vehicle Display Porous Asphalt Lot