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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Water Quality/Technical Committee met via Zoom conference on Monday, May 4, 2020

Kelsey Butterworth
Diane Buxbaum
Marlene Donnelly
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Richard Lawrence
Amy Motzny
Peter Reich
Chrissy Remein
Terri Thomson
Maryann Young
Susan Yung

Meeting Notes:

WQ/Tech Committee Meeting Logistics: 

  • After some discussion, it was unanimously decided that the Water Quality/Technical Committee will pursue future meetings as scheduled during their originally agreed upon date and time, the first Monday of every month at 7:00 pm. 
  • Until further notice, these meetings will be held virtually via Zoom. Amy will set up technical logistics for this until in-person meeting can resume. 
  • Katia and Richard will coordinate with the Archaeology Committee to request future Archaeology meetings resume during their originally agreed upon date and time, the first Monday of every month at 6:00 pm, and potentially share Zoom login credentials. 
  • Amy to follow-up with Doug Sarno on this communication 

Follow-up on EPA Updates and April 28th General CAG Presentation: 

  • Following up on EPA’s presentation to the general CAG, the committee discussed CAG recommendations for EPA to consider as they move forward with clean-up activities including: 
    • The 1st Street Turning Basin, which will be a major benefit to the community, but presents an opportunity to do more as bulkhead construction throughout the Canal results in a narrowing of the waterway. Moving forward, the committee seeks to: 
      • Support the Land Use Committee’s proposal to extend excavation and restoration of the 5th Street Turning Basin 
      • Follow up with EPA on questions regarding land ownership at the waterfront where the canal will be filled to accommodate bulkhead installation 
        • Who owns this land? How will this additional waterfront area be factored into open space requirements for future zoning and development? 
      • Committee members to bring these topics to the Land Use Committee meeting on May 5th.

Committee Concerns regarding Superfund Activities and COVID-19:

It was noted that essential contract workers on-site for Superfund cleanup activities were observed in violation of contract-specified Health & Safety protocol requiring masks, gloves, and social distancing. 

  • Terri Thomson clarified that these measures were embedded in the Health & Safety protocol and that the violations were brought to the attention of contract workers.
  • The committee discussed, at length, a need for the CAG to put forth a message communicating our insistence and concern for the protection of essential workers. 
    • Chrissy to develop broad language for this message and circulate for committee feedback and delivery to EPA. 
  • The committee also discussed recent findings on the presence of COVID-19 in untreated sewage, including CSO discharges to open waters. While the science around detection and appropriate response continues to evolve, this remains an important issue for the committee to track. 
    • Chrissy will include additional language based on Riverkeeper’s best-practice recommendations for the protection of essential workers at risk of contact with untreated sewage and CSO in her message. 
    • The committee also discussed potential expansion of the CAG messaging to address health and safety best practices, beyond COVID-19, including all potential exposures associated with CSO discharges (i.e. other viruses, pathogens, antibiotics, etc.) 

Brooklyn Greenway Proposal, including temporary connector over the Gowanus Canal:

  • This topic was brought to the committee for discussion but members decided that relevance to water quality and Superfund activities may be a stretch. The committee agreed to track the issue as plans move forward, but to table for committee discussion for the time being. It may be productive for the CAG to bring to the attention of the Community Board. 

DEC/National Grid Presentation on Public Place Remediation: 

  • At the last in-person committee meeting, coordination efforts for a DEC presentation on remediation activities at Public Place were underway. The committee seeks to move forward with this coordination, proposing a virtual presentation at an upcoming CAG meeting. 
    • Terri to share contact information for the DEC project manager. 
    • Amy to coordinate on scheduling with Doug and DEC 
    • For weekly updates on remediation activities and to subscribe to the mailing list,  CAG members should visit:

You can access the MP4 of the recorded meeting HERE.

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