She’s a stormwater technician for the New York City Soil and Water Conservation District. Tangtrakul is also a steering committee member for the SWIM Coalition.
SWIM stands for Stormwater Infrastructure Matters. The coalition is made up of more than 70 organizations that are dedicated to ensuring swimmable and fishable waters around New York City.
“We’re helping different organizations understand what that means and what it’s going to take to get there,” she said.
But reaching the goal of swimmable and fishable waterways is challenging because they are polluted in many ways.
Some waterways, like Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, have a lot of historical pollution from industrial uses.
Others, like the Flushing Bay, are filled with combined sewer overflows (CSO) that contaminate the waterways every time it rains.
“The challenge for us is that New York City is so big, and there’s so much sewage going into the waterways,” Tangtrakul said. “It’s a lot of area to cover to try to find solutions for.”
It’s also a challenge to get out the message that every time someone flushes the toilet when it rains, it could be going into our waterways.
The SWIM Coalition closely follows legislation in the City Council and State Legislature to make sure they contribute to the group’s goals.
One bill that Tangtrakul is excited for is legislation requiring new buildings to have green roofs or solar panels.
Tangtrakul said green roofs are important in the fight against climate change because they help insulate the building, mitigate the urban heat island effect, filter the air and create habitats for pollinators.
“There’s a lot of really good things that come out of green roofs and green infrastructure,” she said.