At its April 23, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution demanding that the City-sponsored Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning not compromise the Superfund remedy by allowing proposed density to increase combined sewage overflow (CSO) into the Canal.
The resolution reads as follows:
Resolved, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) demands that the City-sponsored Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning not compromise the Superfund remedy through allowing proposed density to increase combined sewage overflow (CSO) into the Canal. To protect the remedy, we demand that:
1. The City incorporate the methods below as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment to accurately measure the increase in CSO at each outfall that will result from increased density, without counting CSO reductions that are already required under existing plans:
a. The study should model increased wastewater load by CSO drainage area, and model impact at each outfall.
b. The study should include projected wastewater generated from other land use changes in the watershed, including planned development in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and Downtown Brooklyn that will add additional sewage to the system.
c. When describing impervious area on projected development sites, impervious areas that are currently surface draining directly into the Canal should not be counted as contributing to existing CSO volume.
d. Canal water quality data collected adjacent to CSO outfalls during wet weather should be evaluated to ensure comprehensive baseline for existing water quality.
e. Existing sewage overflows should be monitored, and existing trigger rainfall thresholds for sewage overflow presented.
f. The effects of the incremental demand on the system should be assessed to determine if there will be a net increase in sewage and stormwater during a given rain event, which would result in more CSO.
g. This assessment should also evaluate whether water quality under the RWCDS will allow for primary contact under the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria.
h. There must not be unmitigable adverse impacts on water quality in the Gowanus Canal. Specifically, a net increase in CSO under the RWCDS shall not be permissible. Proposed Actions must implement mitigation measures to prevent or offset additional sewer loadings.
i. Existing workplans under DEP cannot be cited as sufficient mitigation for increased sewage and stormwater load, as the community is already promised this critical infrastructure under the Superfund, Waterbody/Watershed Facility Plan and Long Term Control Plan.
j. As the CAG anticipates that increased sanitary or stormwater discharges from the RWCDS associated with the Proposed Actions will increase CSO volumes/frequencies, a more detailed analysis should be completed and mitigation actions identified with ample time before ULURP begins.
2. The City identify and implement measures to sustain water quality in the Gowanus Canal that allows for primary contact under the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria before allowing residential development along the Canal;
3. The City outlines a clear procedure to implement and monitor mitigation of potential increased CSO in partnership with EPA; and incorporate binding legal language in the amendments to the Zoning Map, Zoning Text and City Map to ensure that additional density causes no additional CSO. This procedure should include:
• comparison of actual sanitary sewage and stormwater generation from planned development to the estimates in the Environmental Impact Statement
• determination of mitigation strategies based on actual generation
• oversight and comprehensive monitoring of compliance post-construction
Since our inception, the Gowanus CAG has had the goal of CSO elimination and improved water quality in the Canal, as demonstrated in several resolutions passed by the CAG:
March 2012 CAG Resolution
“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 water while recreating in, on, or at the canal.”
April 2012 CAG Resolution
“The Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group fully supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its finding that New York City’s Combined Sewer Overflows are a significant contributor of harmful sediment and Superfund regulated PAHs and metals to the canal. The CAG takes the position that the total elimination of CSOs into the Gowanus Canal is the only acceptable solution to the problem.
The CAG asks that the EPA, under their Superfund authority, take the necessary measures that will insure protection of the proposed remedy from ongoing CSO sediment solids deposits and the release of PAHs and other toxins.”
April 2013 CAG Resolution
“We are in support of the Proposed [Remedial Action] Plan which… effectively addresses the known toxic compounds contributed by the CSO’s at their source while simultaneously helping us get closer to our goal of CSO elimination in the Canal.”
At a March 26 presentation to the CAG, DEP indicated that they did not think it necessary to invest in additional infrastructure to manage increased density. The CSO-mitigation measures mandated under the EPA Record of Decision, the Waterbody/Watershed Facility Plan and Long Term Control Plan; will reduce CSO into the Canal to 115 million gallons annually1. Since our inception, the CAG has had a goal of complete CSO elimination. In 2013, we supported the EPA Record of Decision which mandates that “redevelopment projects will need to take mitigation measures to prevent or offset additional sewer loadings.” The community will not accept a scenario that increases CSO past the levels the City is already required to meet.
Additionally, construction of the CSO infrastructure required under the Superfund will not be completed until 2030 by the City’s estimate. If the City’s mitigation strategy is to enlarge this infrastructure, it is unacceptable for the Proposed Actions to increase CSO before the mitigation is in place.
In the case of 365-363 Bond – the one higher density development on the Canal to date – the EPA played an important regulatory role in ensuring that the development incorporated appropriate mitigation measures to offset increased sewage load. As the Proposed Actions would enable numerous higher density developments in a short period of time throughout the neighborhood, it is imperative that there be a clear procedure to oversee implementation of mitigation measures, and to monitor their impact.
Honorable Brad Lander, Council Member, District 39
Honorable Stephen Levin, Council Member, District 33
Honorable Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President
Honorable Nydia Velazquez, Congresswoman, NY 7th District
Honorable Velmanette Montgomery, State Senator, 25th District
Honorable Jo Anne Simon, Assemblymember, Assembly District 52
Michael Racioppo, District Manager, Brooklyn Community Board 6
Basil Seggos, Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation
Angela Licata, Deputy Commissioner of Sustainability, Department of Environmental Protection
Kevin Clarke, Portfolio Manager, Department of Environmental Protection
Michael DeLoach, Deputy Commissioner, Public Affairs & Communications, Department of Environmental Protection
Winston Von Engel, Brooklyn Borough Office, Director, Department of City Planning
Jonathan Keller, Senior Planner, Department of City Planning
Thomas J. Fariello, Acting Commissioner, Department of Buildings
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Pete Lopez, Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 2
Walter Mugdan, Superfund Director, U.S. EPA Region 2
Christos Tsiamis, Senior Project Manager, U.S. EPA Region 2
Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA Region 2
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