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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
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
J. Marcus
Steve Marcus
Amy Motzny
Terri Thomson
Maryann Young
Susan Yung

Meeting Notes:

DEC Meeting Coordination for July 28th Meeting:

  • Committee looked over the CAG Questions for NYSDEC, NYSDOH, National Grid:
  • Committee members are generally in agreement that the list of topics/questions are comprehensive 
  • There was some concern around future development plans and the list of CAG questions should further inquire about development on contaminated sites post-remediation including: Can you do development on these types of sites? Are there examples of relevant projects that have been completed? How is the floodplain being considered in terms of future development and what are the potential impacts?
  • Amy to update list of questions with thematic categories (for organization), add additional questions/concerns,  and condense for circulation to general CAG and DEC 

4th Street Turning Basin: 

  • 4th Street Basin CSO – overwhelming the Turning Basin; something that CAG should discuss 
    • Including coal tar/oily sheen arising concerns 
  • Potentially adding floating booms for additional control 
  • National Grid has been contacted by Christos and EPA team regarding this issue 
  • CSO will eventually settle – what happens when it settles above the protective cap? 
  • WQ/Tech Comm. – reach out and keep on our radar moving forward 
  • Photos by Brad Vogel posted by Katia on Pardon me for asking:
  • Opportunity to engage NYSDEC on need for more booms – additional floatable control 

 Flushing Tunnel: 

  • Committee concern about status updates regarding operations for the Flushing Tunnel; Discussion on potential ask for the City (DEP) to provide notifications/regular updates, specifically about when the Flushing Tunnel will be on/off 
  • There is a need for the community to be aware of operational changes – concerns about public health and water quality during times when the tunnel is off 
  • Notification could be an update through email, posted to EPA/CAG website, DEP website, etc. 
  • If this information/regular updates are publicly available, how will it be used?
    • Committee discussion around: 
      • Further water quality testing; Should WQ/Tech Comm. ask for more water quality testing in order to A.) Determine effectiveness of recent repairs and B.) assess impacts during both on/off times (water quality improvements and detriments) to establish a baseline for overall impact/effectiveness of the Flushing Tunnel 
      • Waterbody advisory for boaters and activities in/on the Canal
  • Amy to reach out to Kevin Clarke (DEP) regarding status of Flushing Tunnel operations; has DEP considered a public notification system? Was the foaming issue resolved by the repairs/upgrades in December? 
  • Amy will draft a resolution and share with the committee this week – bring forward to next CAG meeting 

COVID-19 detection in the Canal & General DEP Updates

  • Committee discussion around: 
    • COVID-19 exposure through air and CSO discharges; what is the level of concern? 
  • WQ/Tech to discuss at the next General CAG meeting (July 28th) during Committee Updates
  • WQ/Tech to also assess General CAG interest for DEP update at September CAG Meeting in order to present new information on:
    • COVID-19 Response
    • Salt Lot CSO Facility Planning
    • Updates on North Canal CSO Facility 

Virtual Meeting w/ Newtown Creek: 

  • Committee interest/discussion in potential joint Superfund meeting/workshop to discuss shared concerns regarding: 
    • Agency Engagement (DEP, DOH, DEC, etc.)
    • Maybe not a formal CAG meeting, but an opportunity to talk about shared issues 
    • WQ/Tech Committee could potentially host during scheduled committee meeting – open to the public 
    • Next Steps: 
      • Committee members to generate potential list of shared topics/concerns to share with Newtown Creek CAG Chairs
        • Katia to begin drafting initial list and distribute to committee for feedback
        • Louis to reach out to Willis (Chair Newtown Creek Superfund) to gauge interest in shared meeting 
        • Pending Newtown Creek CAG interest/enthusiasm, work with Natalie Loney (liaison for both Superfund CAGs) to coordinate joint meeting 
      • Transparency during this process is important to the committee
      • Shared topic ideas should be sent to Katia

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