In light of the second Gowanus Canal swim this year by clean-water activist Christopher Swain, we thought we’d reiterate that the first resolution passed by the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, way back in March 2012, was a call to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) that the quality of the water in the Canal be improved enough in the future to reclassify it from its current standard, SD, the lowest possible classification for marine waters.
The Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group hereby resolves that the water of the Gowanus Canal be reclassified from its current industrial standard, which is designated Class-SD. Class-SD only mandates a minimal level of dissolved oxygen be maintained in the waters, but places no limit to levels of pathogens present in the waterway.
The CAG requests that the Gowanus Canal be given a water classification that is protective of its current recreational uses which includes contact recreation for families and children. A reclassification that imposes limits on pathogen levels, both coliform and enterococci bacteria, is necessary to insure that children and others are not exposed to unacceptable health risks, including dangerous diseases, due to a simple act of coming into contact with the w!ater while recreating in, on, or at the canal.
The CAG believes that any Long-Term Control Plan put into place for New York City must raise the water quality of the Gowanus Canal to a standard compatible with recreational goals, a position we reiterated to NYC DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd in a June, 2015 letter.
You can learn more about New York State water-quality standards and classifications here.