Local Elected Officials Welcome EPA/DEP Agreement on Gowanus CSO Retention Tanks

Local Elected Officials Welcome EPA/DEP Agreement on Gowanus CSO Retention Tanks

For Immediate Release                                                                                              April 22, 2016


Local Elected Officials Issue Statement Welcoming Agreement between U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and NYC Department of Environmental Protection on Gowanus CSO Retention Tanks:

Will Dramatically Reduce Sewage Flowing Into the Canal While Fully Preserving Thomas Greene Park and Increasing Open Space

BROOKLYN, NY -- In advance of a public meeting on Monday, April 25, New York City Council Member Brad Lander, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and New York State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, issued the following statement:

"We welcome the agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on the location of two sewage and stormwater retention tanks in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Construction of these two large retention tanks is an essential component of the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, to reverse over a century of environmental degradation and neglect that made the Gowanus Canal one of the most contaminated water bodies in the country. Together, the two retention tanks will achieve an estimated reduction of 58 to 78 percent of the combined sewage discharges (CSO) that flow into the Gowanus Canal today.

We are supportive of the approach described in the proposed agreement, which would locate an eight-million gallon retention tank at two adjacent properties along the Canal, between Butler and Degraw Streets. This location avoids the permanent loss of parkland at nearby Thomas Greene Park -- an important community hub for children and families, which was considered as a location for the larger tank -- and will actually allow us to increase open space in our community.

The agreement provides strong protections, if problems arise in the acquisition of the proposed site. If the City should not meet specified timeframes for locating the retention tank on Nevins Street, the EPA can require the City to design a retention tank for construction at Thomas Greene Park.

We are also pleased that the EPA and New York City remain in agreement regarding locating the second, four-million gallon retention tank at a City-owned property on 2nd Avenue and 5th Street. We will continue to work closely together with the Department of Sanitation, which uses the property to store road salt, and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a local non-profit organization which also uses the space to compost organic waste, as the design process proceeds.

We are grateful to the EPA and the DEP for listening to community residents, being guided by science in the cleanup, maximizing the public interest, and working together in a thoughtful way to arrive at the best possible outcome.

With this agreement, we are one big step closer to cleaning up one of the country's most polluted waterways, and healing the land and the water of Gowanus.

We encourage members of the public to provide comments in writing for the next 30 days (until May 16) and at a public meeting on Monday April 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm at PS 32 (317 Hoyt St at Union St). Comments can be mailed or emailed to Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director, 290 Broadway, Floor 19, New York, N.Y., 10007 or mugdan [dot] walter [at] epa [dot] gov.

** Update: The public comment period has been extended until May 31, 2016.

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