Springtime in Gowanus: Big steps forward toward a healthier canal

Springtime in Gowanus: Big steps forward toward a healthier canal

At the end of 2015, I wrote to you with a (rather in depth) update on the Gowanus Canal cleanup. I’m happy to report that, this month, we took another big step forward toward a healthier canal. We are also working hard to involve community members in the cleanup efforts

As part of the Superfund cleanup process, the EPA has required that the City of New York construct two large sewage retention tanks in Gowanus—in order to dramatically reduce the amount of sewage that flows into the canal when it rains. On April 15, the EPA and the City announced a proposed agreement on the location of those tanks: an eight-million gallon tank will be built on privately-owned property along the Canal, between Butler and Degraw Streets, and a smaller four-million gallon tank will be located on a City-owned property at 2nd Avenue and 5th Streets.

Together with Council Member Stephen Levin, Borough President Eric Adams, and State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, I expressed my support of the approach outlined in this important agreement. With it, we avoid the permanent loss of parkland at nearby Thomas Greene Park, which had been considered as a location for the larger tank. Instead, we will not only reduce the sewage in the canal, but fully preserve Douglass Degraw “Double D” pool and increase open space in Gowanus.

If you’d like to learn more about this agreement, the EPA will make a public presentation tonight—Monday, April 25 at 6:30 pm—at PS 32 (317 Hoyt St at Union St). Comments can also be emailed to Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director, until May 31: mugdan [dot] walter [at] epa [dot] gov

Now, how about getting your hands dirty? There are many creative ways in which volunteers can work together toward a healthier Gowanus!

First, check out ArtLab Gowanus, a pop-up on the Whole Foods Esplanade that will host small-scale art happenings and community-based environmental stewardship workshops throughout the summer and fall. The idea came from the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, and I was happy to fund this project through the Gowanus Public Art program.

Second, mark your calendars for EXPO Gowanus, a community event that will highlight the many exciting projects underway and plug in interested volunteers. This year, the event will take place on Saturday May 21 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at 5th Avenue and 4th Street.   


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