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.
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In keeping with best practices for limiting person-to-person transmission of the Novel Coronavirus, we are cancelling our March General Meeting, which had been scheduled for March 24th.

If any important developments or news happens regarding the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, we will keep you informed by posting information to this website, emailing it to our full contact list, and sharing it via Twitter @GowanusCAG.

Our next General Meeting is currently schedule for April 28th. We hope that conditions will be such at that time that we are able to safely meet in person, but we’ll know better as we get into April. We’ll also provide updates on CAG Committee meetings still on our calendar for April.

In the interim, please keep safe and take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, at the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, at 232 3rd Street.

CAG Members present:

David Briggs
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Steve Marcus
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Brad Vogel
Maryann Young
Susan Yung


Diana Gruberg
Terri Thomson (National Grid)

Item 1

Brad drafted a resolution for the CAG to request the entirety of the former 5th Street turning basin (located at the east side of the Third Avenue bridge) to be excavated during the course of the Superfund cleanup. The turning basin aligns with the 4thStreet turning basin directly south of Whole Foods on the west side of the bridge.


Dave suggested adding a map and clarification on the turning basin’s location to the resolution. It was decided that Brad, Andrea, and Mike of Riverkeeper will contact Christos Tsiamis of the EPA about the following:

a)  How did EPA arrive at an excavation length of 25’, as currently planned?

b)  How many borings were done and where? What were the results?

All agreed that since there is an ecological benefit for restoring the full length of the original turning basin, a strong case could be made to excavate it under NRDA requirements.

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Gowanus CAG Administration Committee meeting, February 4, 2020.
Held in the Carroll Park Park House.

Jerry Armer
Ben Jones
Katia Kelly
Maryann Young
Rita Miller (on the phone)

Pending Applications:
Jennifer Jones: Rita will reach out to ask her to consider becoming an at-large member, since her organization/school does not seem to be active yet.
Mike Song: Katia will make sure he will be put on the CAG agenda for March or April.

Change in application interview:
The Admin committee will propose to the full CAG to do away with the interview section of the CAG application process. It was felt that the interviews are awkward and repetitive, since the applicant already answered pertinent questions on the application. We suggest that the Admin Committee will continue to review the paper applications as they come in, make sure that they have been completed, and forward to the CAG for review at the next full CAG.

Currently the CAG by-laws ready:
New member process:
1) application form completed by applicant

2) Admin Committee issues opinion regarding impact of applicant on overall CAG balance
3) applicant meets with full CAG at General meeting
4) blind vote with simple majority (greater than 50%) required for approval.  (2013 addendum to the CAG’s by-laws Page 11)

Since the by-laws only mention “meet” and not “interview,” perhaps we can suggested the elimination of the “interview” without introducing a charter change. Admin will ask the full CAG if improvements can be made to the paper application to satisfy anything not sufficiently covered on the current application.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, at 232 3rd Street.

CAG Members present:

David Briggs
Katia Kelly
Hildegaard Link
Steve Marcus
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Maryann Young


Terri Thomson (National Grid)

Item 1

Proposed flood gate at the mouth of the canal. What is the timing and how will it impact the cleanup?


Committee supports inviting the Army Corp of Engineers to a CAG meeting so they can present how the gate will be installed and operated.

Item 2

Cleanup of Public Place site. DEC is overseeing cleanup while EPA is overseeing cleanup of the Fulton MGP site. Are the cleanup standards and protocols the same at both sites?


Terri will confirm.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

CAG Attendees: Sabine Aronowsky, Christine Petro, Eric McClure

Guests: Benjamin Solotaire, Jennifer Jones


10th Anniversary Event
• Updates to the Timeline

Jennifer knows someone who lives in the neighborhood who does data visualization for the New York Times – might be a good resource for the timeline redesign.

Benjamin: North Gowanus Visioning Group meeting next on January 28th.

Replicating the Double D pool exactly will be difficult; siting the temporary pool within a reasonable distance from its current location will be a challenge without some tradeoffs. Sabine mentioned that Goldfish, a private pool operator, has opened recently in the neighborhood, and could be a possible temporary solution.

Tank site design still has some flexibility.

Haven’t been in touch with DEP about anything in particular. Demolition should start in the next couple months.

Council Member Levin is still planning to host a February/March informational meeting to provide the community with an overview of the CSO tank plan, construction process, 234 Butler preservation. Contingent on acceptance of the design by EPA. Haven’t chosen a firm date yet.

ULURP agreement includes creation of a construction watchdog group, which needs to be in place by the time that demolition starts. Benjamin and Eric will check with CB6 about the task force.

Sabine is willing to compile a video montage of CAG and cleanup history and take the lead on pulling visuals.

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The Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG) on February 5th submitted a formal request for water reclassification, or a “reclass petition,” to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Division of Water, Bureau of Water Assessment and Management.

The CAG seeks to reclassify the surface waters of the Gowanus Canal, north of Hamilton Avenue, through the State’s formal rule-making process, from the current industrial designation of Class-SD to Class-I, in order to require more stringent regulatory oversight and enforcement for improved water quality.

The CAG has requested that the Gowanus Canal be given a water classification that will be reflective of ongoing investments in water quality improvement, including the federally mandated Superfund clean-up, and recent and proposed infrastructure investments; is protective of its current recreational uses which include primary and secondary contact; supports the abundance of aquatic flora and fauna living in the Canal, including substantial fish populations in a variety of life stages; and ensures public health and safety in light of a proposed rezoning that will bring new residential development requiring public access at the waterfront.

To see the CAG’s request for water reclassification in its entirety, including our letter to NYS DEC, the formal petition, letters of support from elected officials, and supporting documents, please click here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New York District, in cooperation with non-federal sponsors the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, has announced a public meeting for the New York New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Study on February 27, 2020 in Rockaway Park, Queens. 

According to USACE, the coastal storm risk management study covers the New York and New Jersey Harbor and tidally affected tributaries encompassing all of New York City, the Hudson River north to Troy; the lower Passaic, Hackensack, Rahway, and Raritan Rivers; and the Upper and Lower Bays of New York Harbor, Newark, Jamaica, Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays; the Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill and East River tidal straits; and western Long Island Sound. 

The study is authorized by a 1955 law that directs the examination of damages in coastal and tidal areas due to coastal storms, such as hurricanes, “and of possible means of preventing loss of human lives and damages to property, with due consideration of the economics of proposed breakwaters, seawalls, dikes, dams, and other structures, warning services, or other measures which might be required.”  

At the meeting, the USACE will update stakeholders and the public on tasks underway since the release of an interim report in February, 2019.  One key task is the development of new preliminary data from USACE hydrodynamic modeling, which identifies possible induced flooding extents, including the Rockaway area, and consideration of measures to minimize, avoid or mitigate any and all induced flooding that may result from conceptual alternatives.  

Meeting details are as follows:

Thursday, February 27, 2020 
(Rain/snow date of Thursday, March 05, 2020: In case of postponement due to a forecast of inclement weather, an e-mail announcement will be made by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 26th, and information will be posted on the project website.)

Beach Channel Educational Campus
100-00 Beach Channel Drive
Rockaway Park, NY 11694
(The meeting will be in the auditorium; enter through the main entrance on Beach Channel Drive.)

Welcome:  5:00 p.m.
Initial Presentation:  5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Questions and Discussion:  6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Presentation Recap:  7:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Further Questions and Discussion:  7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it is issuing an administrative order requiring the start of the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

The EPA cited the order as a major milestone in the cleanup of the site. It covers the cleanup of roughly the upper third of the canal, designated as Remediation Target Area, or RTA, 1, as well as the 1st Street turning basin.

The work required by the administrative order includes the full-scale dredging and capping of RTA 1, as well as full restoration of the 1st Street turning basin, which is currently filled in.

According to the press release issued today by the EPA, the work will cost an estimated $125 million, and should take about two-and-a-half years to complete. Work is projected to begin in September of this year, contingent upon the completion of necessary upgrades to canal bulkheads.

You can read the complete EPA press release here.

To see the EPA’s Administrative Order in its entirety, please click here.

Please join us for our first General Meeting of 2020, on Tuesday, January 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens. All of our meetings are open to the public.

DRAFT AGENDA  (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:40 PM:     Welcome and Introductions 

6:45 – 7:15 PM:     USEPA Project Updates

  • Q&A

7:15 – 7:45 PM:     Overview of USACE Storm Barrier Study

  • Riverkeeper & Water Quality/Technical Committee
  • Q&A

7:45 – 8:15 PM:     CAG Committee Issues and Updates

  • Admin Committee (membership update)
  • Land Use Committee
  • Outreach Committee 
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee
  • Leadership Committee

8:15 PM:  Announcements

8:30 PM:  Adjourn