Learn about the ongoing cleanup of the Gowanus Canal from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives and elected officials.

The Gowanus Canal is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States — but did you know that there is work being done to clean it up?

In 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to remove polluted material from the Canal and address other sources of pollution along its banks, including three former manufactured-gas plant sites, along with upgrades to the city’s sewer system. The cleanup work, which began in November 2020, is expected to cost more than $1.5 billion dollars.

On June 30, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) invites members of the greater Gowanus community to attend a Town Hall meeting at P.S. 32 (317 Hoyt Street) to learn more about the cleanup of the Canal under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program.

Representatives from the EPA’s cleanup team and the CAG will be there to talk about:

  • Why the canal got so polluted in the first place
  • What the cleanup will change about the Canal
  • What’s happening today, with clean up activities currently underway
  • What the canal might look like when the cleanup is complete
  • How the community can get involved in the cleanup
  • And more!

The focus of the Town Hall will be on answering your questions. Please RSVP for the event, and share your questions in advance at gowanuscag@gmail.com.

The Gowanus Canal Cleanup: A Community Town Hall
Thursday, June 30
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
P.S. 32
317 Hoyt Street, Brooklyn
Register here.

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, at 7 p.m., the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will host another online public-engagement meeting about the development of the Gowanus Canal “Owls Head” combined-sewer overflow facility planned for 2nd Avenue and 6th Street in Brooklyn.

DEP and the design team will report back on the feedback received at the February 10th public engagement meeting and how it has informed the design approach for the City’s facilities and opportunities for public open space and ecosystem restoration.

DEP encourages advance registration for this meeting. For more information, and to register, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-engagement-meeting-gowanus-canal-owls-head-cso-facility-tickets-321448550267

The public is invited to comment on a proposed remedy being reviewed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), in consultation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), to address contamination related to the 240 Huntington Street site (“site”) located at 240 Huntington Street, Brooklyn, NY.

Based on the findings of the investigation, NYSDEC in consultation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has determined that the site does not pose a significant threat to public health or the environment.

How to Comment: NYSDEC is accepting written comments about the proposed plan, called a “Draft Remedial Action Work Plan,” through April 23, 2022.

You can access the Draft Remedial Action Work Plan and supporting documents here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/data/DecDocs/C224314/.

The site is located as indicated in the map below.

You can download a fact sheet about the proposed project here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/data/der/factsheet/c224314cuprop.pdf.

You can sign up to receive updates and information about sites being addressed under New York State’s Superfund, Brownfield Cleanup, and Environmental Restoration Programs here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/61092.html.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will host a virtual public availability session on Wednesday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m., to discuss the remedy to address contamination related to Parcel III and a portion of Parcel IV of the Fulton Works Former MGP site located adjacent to Nevins Street between Degraw and Sackett Streets in Gowanus.

To join the meeting by computer, please visit https://meetny.webex.com/meetny/onstage/g.php?MTID=ee2fa0821234 6676dce4145415c1b9946.

To join the meeting by phone, dial (518) 549-0500 and use the following access code: 161 612 2011.

You can view a fact sheet outlining plans for the Fulton MGP cleanup here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/data/der/factsheet/224051cubegins.pdf.

Contractors working under the supervision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have completed the installation of pipe pile bulkheads at the entrance to the filled-in 1st Street Turning Basin. The stabilizing bulkheads will facilitate excavation of the turning basin, allowing for its eventual restoration. Read about this and other news in the EPA’s Community Update #3, embedded below and available as a PDF here.

Para obtener una versión en español, haga clic aquí.

Update on necessary closures of the Union Street Bridge from the Gowanus Remediation Team:

Please be advised that the Union Street Bridge will be impassable to all roadway traffic between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., for up to five days a week, beginning March 8, 2022. The closures will be implemented on certain weekdays intermittently, based on the need to conduct specific
construction activities.

These closures are necessary to facilitate work being conducted in the canal by the Gowanus Remediation Team (GRT). Setting the bridge span in the open position (closed to roadway traffic) will allow GRT workers to remove and stabilize target sediments from the canal bed, and install new electrical cables that are a part of the bridge’s control system.

The daily closures will be implemented intermittently as needed until Fall 2022. The working hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. have been selected in order to minimize the inconvenience for pedestrians and motorists that will be unable to traverse the bridge while this work is in progress.

Please note that the Carroll Street Bridge is expected to remain closed to roadway traffic while this work at the Union Street Bridge is taking place.

For questions and concerns please reach out to the Gowanus Remediation Team at info@gowanussuperfund.com or call the hotline at (718) 403-2451.

At its February 22, 2022 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution initiated by the Water Quality/Technical Committee requesting that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection cooperate with US Environmental Protection Agency mandates regarding sewer-separation projects.

The resolution reads as follows:

Re: Requesting NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cooperation with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates regarding proposed sewer separation projects that are protective of the Superfund remedy, allowing direct discharge of stormwater flows where feasible for further reduction of combined sewer overflow impacts (CSO) as a result of new development in the Gowanus neighborhood.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) supports the EPA mandates outlined in paragraphs 73c (Stormwater Controls) and 73d (Separated Outfall Treatment Units) of the Executive Administrative Order (EAO) dated March 29, 2021, as affirmed in the June 2021 CAG resolution in support of EPA’s Administrative Order. The community sees benefits to allowing the direct discharge of stormwater flows where source-control measures for pollution control are in place, particularly at street-end sites along the Canal. Currently, most street ends drain downhill over land and flow directly into the Canal. If this stormwater is re-directed uphill into the already overburdened sewer infrastructure, it will lead to increased Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). From a water quality standpoint, with appropriate source controls that pre-treat stormwater before entering the waterway, direct discharge of stormwater is far less polluting than CSO.

With regards to a recent proposal submitted for the Huntington Street End site on the Gowanus Canal, the developer proposes to separate stormwater and sanitary flows at the developer-owned site and adjacent street end with EPA approved source-control pollution prevention, a Vortex Separator, installed and maintained by the developer. DEP has denied the permit application and directed the developer to instead construct a combined system, which adds both new sanitary and street-end stormwater volumes to the constrained combined sewer main capacity.

The CAG requests that DEP cooperate with EPA and work with them to implement the recent separated street stormwater plans submitted by the developer at the Huntington Street End site as well as implementing solutions for direct discharge on similar sites along the Canal. The CAG further requests acknowledgement of receipt with regards to this correspondence. If DEP objects to the CAG request, we kindly ask that the Department provide clear justification or reason within a timely manner.

Click here to view a PDF version of the full resolution.