$150 Million Price Tag Put on Gowanus Effort
A new $150 million project to substantially improve water quality in the Gowanus Canal and reduce its odor impacts was officially announced on Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
One component is the rehabilitation of the existing flushing tunnel and pump station, as reported by the Eagle last week.
The project will also upgrade the canal’s wastewater pumping station to divert more “combined sewer overflows” away from the canal and into the nearby Red Hook Sewage Treatment Plant. In addition, it will upgrade the existing flushing tunnel to significantly increase the flow of oxygen-rich water from the harbor into the canal. Both of these developments were reported upon by the Eagle.
The work also includes dredging sediment at the upper end of the canal, which will hopefully eliminate odors that can arise at low tide.
Taken together, these upgrades will significantly improve water quality and the quality of life around the canal.
“The historic investments we have made in our water supply and our waterways are central to our administration’s sweeping environmental agenda, which will leave our children a greener, healthier city,” said Bloomberg. “This project is a big step toward a comprehensive cleanup that will reduce odors, improve the canal’s ecology, and encourage recreational use of this waterway.”
“Under PlaNYC, the city will launch the nation’s first full-service municipal brownfield cleanup program this coming December,” said Dr. Daniel Walsh, director of the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation.
“The water quality projects the mayor is announcing today, combined with other cleanups performed under the new brownfield program taking place around the canal, will go a long way towards achieving the city’s goal of improving the quality of the environment for the Gowanus community.”
The $150 million project is fully funded with city capital dollars. Nearly $17 billion has been invested in clean water projects over the past eight years, the largest investment in the city’s water supply and waterways by any administration in New York City history.
The city has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a comprehensive cleanup program for the Gowanus Canal that includes dredging decades of sediment from the canal bed. In 2002, the City and the Army Corps formed a partnership to conduct a feasibility study to restore the canal’s ecosystem through the removal and remediation of sediments and habitat restoration.
In April of this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Age-ncy (EPA) proposed placing the canal on the National Priorities List, which would make it a Superfund site. In July, however, the city submitted a detailed Alternative Cleanup Plan for the canal that would achieve a cleanup with EPA oversight.
City authorities believe that this plan would be faster than the Superfund process, which might discourage investment in the area. Controversy continues among environmental groups, local residents and activists.