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

Join the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a public meeting on the Citywide & East River/Open Waters Long Term Control Plan (LTCP). The goal of the LTCP is to better understand the water quality impacts of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and to evaluate various CSO controls.  

The meeting will include a presentation and discussion on the LTCP’s Recommended Plan. NYC DEP seeks public input before the plan is submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in March 2020.

For more information, please visit Citywide & East River/Open Waters or download the Plan Summary.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM EST

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law
2 Court Square
West Auditorium – 2nd Floor
Queens, NY 11101
View Map

Register via Eventbrite.

Gowanus CAG Administration Committee meeting, January 15, 2020
Held in the Carroll Park Park House.

Present:
Ben Jones
Maryann Young
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller (on the phone)

1) The first item on the agenda was to change the language of one proposal to a Charter change previously brought to the full Gowanus CAG.

Background:
At the December 2019 meeting, the CAG passed ALL the proposed language changes to the Charter, but wanted us to tighten the language on one point.
Below is the paragraph we need to review. It was felt that the first two points were way too much for committees to realistically implement.
It was suggested that we change the language to “reasonable efforts shall be made for committees to maintain written record of the drafting process” and lose “all relevant discussion and change/edit history.”
It was also suggested that we clarify in the two last points that everything needs to be submitted to the full CAG seven days prior to the upcoming CAG general meeting. I have already edited that in bold.

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Proposed Agenda: 

  • NYS Superfund Cleanup Work at MGP’s
  • Reclassification Petition UPDATE
    Waiting on letter of support to submit
  • Jan 8 NYS DEC hearing on reclassification standards;  open public comment period through Jan 13
  • Army Corp Presentation to CAG – coordination update
  • Committee Administrative updates – attendance, procedures for 2020

Attendees:

Marlene Donnelly
Peter Reich
Diane Buxbaum
Katia Kelly
Eymund Diegel
Terri Thomson
Louis Kleinman
Amy Motzny
Kelsey Butterworth
Richard Lawrence 

Summary and Follow-up Items 

NYS Superfund Cleanup Work at MGP’s:

  • WQ/Technical Committee concern about remediation process and long-term impact of development on MGP sites. Committee to invite DEC, NYS DOH, and National Grid to present on technical aspects of the process to the CAG at January or February general meeting.  
  • It was suggested that a brownfield tech specialist and/or an environmental scientist be present to provide an exact description of the cleanup and capping and the long-term monitoring for (a) runoff and (b) human health issues – both on land and air, and his/her analysis of the cleanup/capping as being sufficient to protect human health.
    • Marlene to coordinate with Doug on dates 
    • Amy to circulate initial list of technical questions for committee review; send to DEC before CAG presentation 

Water Reclassification Petition:

  • Waiting on letters of support from the following:

    Committed but not received*
    JoAnne Simon – State Assembly District 52
    Felix Ortiz- State Assembly District 51
    Brad Lander – NYC City Council District 39
    Steve Levin – NYC City Council District 33

    No Response*:
    Velmanette Montgomery- State Senate District 25
    Zellnor Myrie – State Senate District 20
    Nydia Velazquez – US Congressional District 7
    Carlos Menchaca – NYC City Council District 38
  • CAG to send final petition by end of January with whatever letters are received at that point.
  • Kelsey to reach out to Menchaca’s office
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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

CAG Attendees: Sabine Aronowsky, Christine Petro, Eric McClure, Jessica Roff

Guests: Natalie Loney, Benjamin Solotaire, Terri Thomson

Agenda:

– 90% design of RTA1 clean up
 – Can EPA produce fact sheet?

– 90% sewage tank design 
 – What is the public input process?
 – Can EPA produce fact sheet?

– Fulton Cut-Off wall 
 – any discussion needed? Do we want to ask about the tugboat sinking or any project updates?

– CAG 10th Anniversary
 – what are the goals? (re-engaging old members, engaging new members, celebrating milestones?)
 – What are the outputs?  report/event 
 – Who should be engaged? 

Natalie: According to Christos, the current plan is to start dredging during the fall of 2020.

Estimated two years to dredge and cap Remedial Target Area (RTA) 1, and if all goes well, subsequent two years each for RTA 2 and RTA 3. Same process and sequence of events as the pilot effort in the 4th Street Basin.

Can the CAG create a stand-alone RTA1 timeline? Probably more helpful than the full (and now cluttered) existing timeline document. Jessica suggests that the full timeline might work better as a tri-fold.

EPA will produce an RTA1 Fact Sheet at a point closer to the beginning of work. Cut-off wall construction should begin this month, and target completion is August 2020. Must be done before RTA1 cleanup work begins.

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Last month Terri put together a meeting on the phone with NYSDEC. 

Water Quality FOILed information about some of what was said, re: 20,000 waterbodies and not enough time.

Since 2012, when the CAG submitted a resolution requesting reclassification of the Gowanus Canal, there have been eight requests for reclassification submitted to NYSDEC; four of them were in the past year.

Link to FOIL documents: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Qvi-Kj4yWfratQixPJZlf8G_IwHQbSSz

The response was very similar to what they’ve consistently told the CAG.

One of the applications was 54 pages with absolute detail. 

There are three agency response letters that don’t say anything. 

We need another strategy that is more political – this isn’t just us – there is a unit to do reclassifications – do they just not move them? 

When you submit a reclassification application, they don’t respond with something pertinent. They want the applicant to provide all this information and wait. 

It’d be different if they said, “thanks, we’ll get to this in 35 years.”

They mimicked what they said on the phone – there’s nothing concrete that will help us figure out when or how to reclassify the waterway. 

Where were the ones that submitted? One in the Finger Lakes with lots of waterbodies in it, most in the Hudson Valley, more initiated by resident associations. 

I was thinking of asking how many have they reclassified without community input next. What bodies and how they were reclassified. Are there any internal processes/departmental processes?

The lake submissions were a little different because of freshwater/drinking water. Land use change is an initiator but obviously not prioritized. 

Sounds like less emphasis on this to be a huge comprehensive resource when we turn it in. 

Would be worth contacting Jo Anne Simon? Yes, is it worth asking the State Assemblywoman to be the petitioner? 

Once we have the application/materials ready, let’s have a resolution to the whole CAG to agree with what we’ve put together, and to have Jo Anne Simon submit it. 

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Water Quality/Technical Committee met on Tuesday, October 7, 2019, at Mary Star of the Sea, 41 1st Street.

CAG Members present:

Diane Buxbaum
Marlene Donnelly
Katia Kelly
Richard Lawrence
Amy Motzny
Peter Reich
Maryann Young
Susan Yung

Guests (via conference call):

Heidi Dubeck (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Section Chief, Remediation)
Aaron Fischer (NYSDEC)
Ed Hampsten (NYSDEC)

CAG: Reclassification petition – what would make one most successful or competitive? 

NYSDEC, Ed: Some of what NYSDEC shared is basic information to give some background. One of the other documents to recommend is the annual compliance report for the SPDES program. Water management cycle. The relationship between various groups and what the function of the program is. Bureau of Water Compliance has statewide implementation so discharges: storm/waste. In particular, one unit deals with NYC compliance – DEP. We administer the CSO order for general compliance for the plants. 

CAG: A lot of us have been involved with water in the neighborhood for 20 years. Can you explain what happened to Gary Klein? 

NYSDEC: In April 2018, Ed moved over and then took over as Gary’s supervisor. Ryan Walder – chief of Metropolitan compliance section. Large portion is NYC related. Linda Allen now works for Ryan. 

CAG: We sent a resolution passed back in 2012 calling for reclassification that has gone to your division repeatedly. Do you have an explanation why we haven’t received an answer to that? 

NYSDEC: They handle monitoring lakes and streams, water quality improvement, standards and classifications are within that unit. 20,000 different waterbodies and waterbody segments across the state – [the Gowanus is] probably one or two of the bodies classified within the system. Reclassification would require NYS rule making process – within a year, you’re doing pretty well. It takes years to gather information. Ultimately you get approval and establish your rule. 

CAG: This is the same information we received in 2013. It’s now six years later and there hasn’t been any movement. We’re trying to understand how a community hasn’t budged an inch on your end. We don’t know how it’s going to get started. 

CAG: Especially when we don’t get acknowledgement of the receipt of the request. 

NYSDEC: There are 20,000 waterbodies we take care of.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, at 543 Union Street.

CAG Members present:

David Briggs
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Steve Marcus
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich

Guests:

Terri Thomson (National Grid)
Amelia Alman (New School)
Liana Nudelman (New School

Item 1

Water Quality Committee is preparing a resolution on a reclassification of the canal’s water. Louis asked Hildegaard if CB6 would consider supporting the resolution.

Action

Louis will send a request to Hildegaard that she will forward to Mike Racioppo, the District Manager.

Item 2

Discussion regarding the Gowanus Alliance email re: DEC permit for proposed withdrawal and discharge from the high-level storm sewer on 9th Street into the canal. All noted that comment period ends on November 29, prior to next CAG meeting.

Action

After lengthy discussion regarding the permit request, and the protocols at the CAG and CB6, it was unanimously agreed that no action is required at this time.

Item 3

Andrea announced upcoming public workshop on November 12 at Pioneer Works with Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Resilient Red Hook to discuss resiliency issues across Gowanus and Red Hook.

Action

None required.

Gowanus Canal CAG General Meeting
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

Announcements:

Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35. 

Minutes from June approved. 

Project Updates

Christos Tsiamis, EPA Remedial Project Manager for the Gowanus Canal cleanup, presented the EPA updates. 

EPA has the “no fishing” signs ready, thanks to the State and National Grid. We have the locations the CAG agreed upon, and National Grid will be instructed to place the signs at those locations. 

We have started the work for the cutoff wall for the former Fulton manufactured gas plant on the east (Park Slope) side of the canal. National Grid contractors have been working there since late August. It is a big job, there will be a sealed bulkhead that will prevent coal tar from leaking through the sides of the canal. There is a staging area being prepared. There is a clearing operation to remove the debris at the bottom of the canal from the top of Union Street along the sides. We anticipate installation of the wall to begin in early February. 

Along with these activities, there was air monitoring, noise and vibration monitoring. There will also be some noise barriers, especially around the Eastern Effects Studio to be responsive of their needs. That work is going well. 

On September 30, EPA expects to have the 90% design from the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for Remedial Target Area 1 (RTA-1) from the top of the canal to the 3rd Street Bridge. We expect to have the 90% design for the detention tank at the upper canal on the east side. These are the detention tanks that under the Record of Decision (ROD) the DEP is required to build. This is the bigger of the two. This is for the clean canal. Both are big designs. They will undergo extensive EPA reviews. We will let you know when we will have schedules. 

CAG: Is the First Street Basin part of this design?

EPA: The 100% design is in place for that already. The design of the canal is complex because of different flow rates. A lot of work has gone into that. We’re getting to the end. 

There are a number of bulkheads in RTA-1 that have to be built. Some have to be prepared, some have to be finalized, some are submitted. There’s a lot of work for the EPA in the coming months. What has to be constructed is the bulkhead in front of NYC property, including the front of the Flushing Tunnel and in front of the outfall. The bulkheads on the west side south of Douglass will have to be constructed, designed, and reviewed from Douglass to Union in the coming months. For the bulkhead on the west from Union to Carroll, there are two properties, and we have designs that are in various stages for these properties. Carroll to 3rd Street also have to design and build, this is the entire east side. 

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